Swobo has “no intention” to use ‘Sprout’ model name says company rep

“Rest easy, FCBC has no intention to start a brand to compete with your efforts nor are we committed to using “Sprout” as a model name.”
— Peter Discoe, Fort Collins Bicycle Company

A representative of Fort Collins Bicycle Company has responded to our story yesterday about its Swobo brand wanting to use the “Sprout” name for a future line of kids bikes. For background, Sprout Cycles has been used by Portland-based bike builder Edwin Brown since 2005.

In a comment left on our story, Peter Discoe with FCBC says they have “no intention” to start a brand name that competes with Brown’s business. Read Discoe’s full comment below (emphasis mine):

“First, let me say that neither Mr. Brown nor Mr. Maus has contacted me about this. Unfortunately, the Coloradan [story here] was incorrect in it’s [sic] reporting that Fort Collins Bicycle Company is starting a new brand to compete with Mr. Brown. You’ll note also it claims me as the Founder of Swobo. Something that I am not. The fact is, what was printed was a misconstrued comment regarding a possible model name for a youth model. Let me be clear… a possible model name. As to the reason we applied for the trademark in that category of children’s bicycle, as has been stated several times here, it part of prudent business practices. We are applying for several names of products, current and potential. Important to note as Mr. Whalen noted, applying is just part of the process and does not guarantee acquisition.

Mr. Maus, please feel free to contact me the next time you’d like to do a story on us. Unfortunately, I think a quick call or email beforehand could have helped retained accuracy in your story and I’m happy to help you in the regard in the future. Edwin, please feel free to contact me, peter@focobikes.com if you’d like to. Rest easy, FCBC has no intention to start a brand to compete with your efforts nor are we committed to using “Sprout” as a model name. If fact, if you’re interested in doing some prototype work in 2012, do reach out. Using folks of your talent is something we often do for help in the initial stages of design and if we can help you achieve your goals in the bike industry as we’re working on achieving, we’re happy to do so.”

For the record, I did make an attempt to contact Mr. Discoe, but was unable to. There is no website for FCBC. I also left a message with an organization he is associated with, but never heard back. I also contacted the reporter from The Coloradoan to get Discoe’s contact info but never heard back before publishing my story.

As for Brown, he’s obviously somewhat relieved to hear this news. A few minutes ago he told me he’ll still follow through with his lawyer to make sure FCBC relinquishes all claims to “Sprout”; but he’s happy they seem to be giving it up. “It’s fantastic,” he said.

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NW Biker
NW Biker
11 years ago

Good news! A nice smile on a chilly grey day.

Doug Smart
Doug Smart
11 years ago

Thanks, Peter Discoe, for being a stand-up guy on this. Best of luck to you with FCBC and the Swobo line.

davemess
davemess
11 years ago

But has he learned his lesson and will trademark the name now?

Doug Morgan
Doug Morgan
11 years ago

I e-mailed swobo today to expressed my displeasure and received this same information. I guess I owe them an apology.

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
11 years ago

It doesn’t exactly restore my confidence in corporate America, but it does restore my confidence in Swobo. Nice to know that there are still “Good Guys” out there.

John H.
John H.
11 years ago

Maybe Mr. Brown should spend the money he has on an attorney and actually register the name (or legalzoom?). The Sprout effort thus far looks more like a hobby than an actual business, so I can see where a corporation that intended to go through the standard biz protocols would overlook a regional hobbyist builder. Does Brown’s Sprout have product liability insurance? If he can’t afford to register a simple trademark, then I wonder what else he flying under the radar on. I would like to see follow up on this from Mr. Brown if possible; as if he doesn’t he is putting himself at greater financial risk than losing a name he was using.

Lastly, it seems that Maus was pretty reactionary on this without getting the facts in order, realizing that this is not real journalism. It seems like a pretty weak-sauce attempt at reaching someone, but couldn’t because they don’t have a web site… ever heard of waiting until you have your facts straight? Its not like this is breaking news with lives at stake and with readers comes responsibility to hang on to any credibility.

John Henningsen

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  John H.

Lastly, it seems that Maus was pretty reactionary on this without getting the facts in order, realizing that this is not real journalism. It seems like a pretty weak-sauce attempt at reaching someone, but couldn’t because they don’t have a web site… ever heard of waiting until you have your facts straight? Its not like this is breaking news with lives at stake and with readers comes responsibility to hang on to any credibility.

John,

Thanks for sharing your opinion about my story. In this case, I’m still comfortable with my decision to publish what I did when I did. Mr. Discoe is entitled to his opinion about my story just like I’m entitled to report what I knew at the time I published it.

grumpcyclist
grumpcyclist
11 years ago

I think it’s unfortunate that you’re frequently comfortable publishing news stories without getting both sides of the issue. If this were the first time this happened you could be given a free pass, but you react so recklessly to stories like this, stories which are not “breaking news,” that it just makes it seem as if you have a careless disregard for the truth.

sorebore
sorebore
11 years ago
Reply to  grumpcyclist

This type of comment is something I hear a bit among people in my world. Their interest in BP is waning due to this thought. WELL… Mr. Maus is the big blog on campus, and I wish there were more for the sake of variety, but who is gonna do it? NOW where is that follow up story on Race Talks? Let’s get back to a juicy local story and forget about bike rack design, craft shows and hobby level frame builders and their growing pains. Come On J.M.! What happened at Race Talks? I wanted to attend but I could not make it.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  sorebore

Wow. Tough crowd. I’ve worked my ass off for six years doing this and yes, I make the wrong decisions some times and yes the site might not be exactly like it used to be because I’m not exactly who I used to be. I’m aware of this and I’m working to deal with it. How about a little support and encouragement? This is a very tough job for one person and I haven’t been as good at putting a team together as I would have liked. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and about race talks. I’ll share some thoughts about that next week.

sorebore
sorebore
11 years ago
Reply to  sorebore

J.M…. My post was meant as a prop to you. Lot’s of time and energy are spent on your part to bring things to the public that they would not get else where.( thus my comment.. “who is going to do it”) In addition there is no way anyone can please everyone. Sorry if my poke seemed more than what was intended. It was directed more at others than you. That’s what I get for tryin’ to be funny ! peace.

— Ha! Thanks sorebore, I’ve had a tough week and I really do need a mental reboot or something. No sweat on your comment. Cheers.– JM

Jram
Jram
11 years ago

“Unfortunately, I think a quick call or email beforehand could have helped retained accuracy in your story and I’m happy to help you in the regard in the future.”

Good burn from the DIscoe Man.

wsbob
11 years ago

“…Let me be clear… a possible model name. As to the reason we applied for the trademark in that category of children’s bicycle, as has been stated several times here, it part of prudent business practices. …” Peter Discoe with FCBC

I wish Mr. Discoe would have been clear, because the statement above that he gave to answer why his company filed for a trademark on the use of the word ‘Sprout’, isn’t clear. By ‘prudent business practices’, what’s Discoe referring to?

If his company isn’t going to be “…using “Sprout” as a model name. …”, what’s his company doing, wasting people’s time by submitting the name to the registration process? Or does Discoe mean to categorically state that other potential model names, but not ‘Sprout’ will be submitted for copyright registration?

I’m gonna stick up for maus on his initial report that Swobo/Ft Collins was after the ‘Sprout’ name, and for his subsequent update, publishing Swobo CEO Peter Discoe’s confusing explanation of Swobo/Ft Collins’s intentions with regards to the use of the word ‘Sprout’.

Maus passed on the news as it was reported in two other publications ‘The Coloradan’ and ‘Bicycle Retailer’, plus…he says he tried, despite apparently poorly available contact info for Discoe or Ft Collins. And, patent attorney Spencer Leuders. Maus says in his other story, (bottom of the story):

“…I hope to hear back from either Spencer Lueders or Peter Discoe to learn more of their side of the story. I will post a follow up when I can. …” http://bikeportland.org/2011/11/10/swobo-wants-sprout-name-but-local-builder-had-it-first-61837

Doesn’t say specifically, but the statement suggests he did try contact those guys.

In his statement posted by maus to this story, Discoe sounds as though he’s trying to pass blame for confusion on someone else, when it’s he that should be having his staff follow up to be sure news about what his company is doing is accurately reported, or corrected if it’s reported wrongly.

Doug Morgan
Doug Morgan
11 years ago

I did apologize and this is part of Mr. Discoe’s reply;

No worries Doug. It’s one of the reasons I’m loth to do interviews and skeptical of bloggers…they typically don’t follow the same fact-check that a paper or bigger news outlet would follow. It’s just part of the new paradigm of doing business these days. Not a fan of it but the way it is.

I really like and enjoy Mr. Maus’ website. But in the future I’ll be holding my fire for a couple days to let these stories air out on their own.

I’ll never forget the time I read in Runners World Magazine the advice to go for a long run without socks, because of the better feeling or some ridiculous bs. It only took a couple of weeks for the blisters to heal. The point you ask? Run everything you read through the filter of your own brain power prior to taking action.

I guess you know why I won’t be part of the bike swarm tonight.

Doug Morgan
Doug Morgan
11 years ago

I was able to get a hold of Mr. Discoe very quickly through the Swobo Website. Just Say’n.

wsbob
11 years ago
Reply to  Doug Morgan

Doug Morgan
I was able to get a hold of Mr. Discoe very quickly through the Swobo Website. Just Say’n.
Recommended 0

You probably were able to able to very quickly get a hold of Discoe, now that he’s on the hot-seat for allowing his company to appear to be running over a little guy’s company.

Maybe after this bit of bad PR, Discoe has now decided to check and take his emails a little more seriously.

You didn’t put Discoe’s purported correspondence to you in quotes, so its a bit hard to be certain about all of which are your comments, and which are his. You leave us to guess then, that the following are his words to you that you’ve posted here:

“No worries Doug. It’s one of the reasons I’m loth to do interviews and skeptical of bloggers…they typically don’t follow the same fact-check that a paper or bigger news outlet would follow. It’s just part of the new paradigm of doing business these days. Not a fan of it but the way it is. ” ….Peter Discoe, CEO of Swobo-Ft Worth Bicycle Company as posted to bikeportland by reader Doug Morgan in a comment to this story.

…we have Peter Discoe speaking critically of bloggers when it was apparently a newspaper and a news letter that somehow initially got the story wrong. Maybe they did so, because Discoe’s company misinformed them.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  wsbob

I agree wsbob. It’s funny that Discoe says that about “bloggers” when it’s the newspaper that he claims made errors even after speaking directly with him. Also, I updated my original story almost immediately to clarify Swobo’s position on the trademark AND I posted Discoe’s own response verbatim on the front page.

joe doebele
11 years ago

Jonathan, I don’t want to be a backseat driver, but let’s slow down for a minute. I hope I’m wrong, but Mr. Discoe’s wording seems to me to be a non-answer. It’s on the verge of hedging. It’s begging for clarification. Your headline says something that he never came out and said. He said Swobo has no intention of starting a brand “to compete with” Edwin, not that Swobo was dropping its application and refraining from using the name. In fact he never even said they were dropping the application–just that they weren’t committed to using it, which suggests they maybe haven’t decided to drop it. If it’s reasonable to think that mass-produced kids’ bikes wouldn’t compete with Edwin’s handmade frames for adults, it follows that this wording means Swobo is leaving the door open for itself.

I think any reporter covering this should now ask Discoe point blank if Swobo is dropping the application or not. And if not, why. They aren’t really obliged to give you a straight answer, but you’re obliged to try to get one.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  joe doebele

Joe,
I agree, and as soon as Discoe left his comment I emailed him asking for him to confirm that he would formally sever all ties to the Sprout name. I have yet to hear back from him.

maxadders
maxadders
11 years ago

You’d think the world had run out of whimsical eco-friendly nouns.

grumpcyclist
grumpcyclist
11 years ago

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Wow. Tough crowd. I’ve worked my ass off for six years doing this and yes, I make the wrong decisions some times and yes the site might not be exactly like it used to be because I’m not exactly who I used to be. I’m aware of this and I’m working to deal with it. How about a little support and encouragement? This is a very tough job for one person and I haven’t been as good at putting a team together as I would have liked. Thanks for reading.

If you’d apologized and admitted you were wrong to post one-sided stories before getting your facts straight then that’d be one thing, but instead you said:

” In this case, I’m still comfortable with my decision to publish what I did when I did. Mr. Discoe is entitled to his opinion about my story just like I’m entitled to report what I knew at the time I published it.”

So not only do you continue to make the same mistakes (publishing stories without verification), you do so without apology.

You should apologize, admit your were wrong, and show you take your responsibility as a journalist seriously by pledging to get the whole story before you publish.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  grumpcyclist

Again, thanks for your opinion. I do take my responsibilty seriously. In this case I think Discoe and some readers are overstating my mistakes/errors. Swobo does want to use sprout. They have attempted to register it as a trademark even though it has been used by Edwin Brown since 2005. Mr. Brown was/is upset about it. The Coloradoan reported this information. All of those things are facts and they are all in my original story. The one mistake I admit to is that I said they had registered the trademark when they really had only applied for the registration.

I think because I published Discoe’s full statement- which included criticisms of my reporting – some readers took his word as gospel.

I still hope to hear back from him with questions I asked via a “quick email” (as per his suggestion) I sent him Friday afternoon.

Oh, and it’s almost impossible I ever report “the full story”… There is always more you can do, time you can wait, people you can talk to.

grumpcyclist
grumpcyclist
11 years ago

I agree there are always more people you can talk to. However don’t you think that the minimum standard in reporting a story about a dispute between two parties is to get the story from BOTH sides in the dispute?

Remember when you reported that a Trimet driver sideswiped a cyclist on Hawthorne, only to find out that the cyclist was at fault? After that story you promised to be more careful about getting the story before publishing. I don’t see any evidence that you’ve decided to do so.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  grumpcyclist

grumpcyclist,
I agree, getting both sides of the story is always preferable… but it’s not a hard line threshold I put on every single story.

As for the TriMet story you mentioned, you are cherry picking out of thousands and thousands of stories I’ve written. Keep in mind that I publish many stories every week with both sides of the story. Not excusing poor decisions I sometimes make (i am human remember?), just making a point.

And one last thing, you also don’t even see the many stories I never end up publishing because I haven’t gotten both sides. Thanks.

grumpcyclist
grumpcyclist
11 years ago

The point is that this is another example of one of those stories, and you don’t really seem to be apologetic about that. I guess you’re out front about not caring whether you get the truth right the first time. I hope your readers remember that.

Doug Morgan
Doug Morgan
11 years ago

I apologized because I was wrong. I was wrong (and outraged) because I believed your article. That’s seems pretty cut and dried to me.

Heck I’m wrong 3x before breakfast some days. Guess that makes us all human.

“No worries Doug. It’s one of the reasons I’m loth to do interviews and skeptical of bloggers…they typically don’t follow the same fact-check that a paper or bigger news outlet would follow. It’s just part of the new paradigm of doing business these days. Not a fan of it but the way it is. ” ….Peter Discoe, CEO of Swobo-Ft Worth Bicycle

I think Mr. Discoe was just making a general comment about bloggers. I don’t know if you went to journalism school or not Mr Maus. The difference seems to be journalists aren’t supposed to care one way or the other about the story. Whereas bloggers may have a point of view. Well Mr. Maus I largely agree with your point of view, I appreciate your “missionary zeal” as it were. Heck nobody else stands up for cyclists, I’m glad you are.

For example I like your coverage of the Skyline issue. You are quite correct to point out what a dangerous jackass Scott Wheeler is. But can you imagine the Oregonian doing that? KGW news would make some half ass effort to tell both sides and somehow make both sides seem equally valid. What garbage. We cyclists are the ones risking our lives out there.

So again I like your work. I wouldn’t read it if I didn’t. Good for you Brother. Keep it up.

Curt Dewees
Curt Dewees
11 years ago

Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication, Jonathan. Your blog provides more & better information about bicycling in Portland–by far–than any other news source in the world. I appreciate your efforts to get on top of breaking news stories in a timely manner and also your willingness to go back and fine-tune a story, add new details and corrections, etc., as new information comes to light. Blogging is not the same as print journalism, and it seems somewhat naive to expect these two very different media to handle news stories in the same way. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

Case
Case
11 years ago

“No worries Doug. It’s one of the reasons I’m loth to do interviews and skeptical of bloggers…they typically don’t follow the same fact-check that a paper or bigger news outlet would follow.”

Did he get JM’s email and choose to ignore it due to his “lothing”?

anonymous
anonymous
11 years ago

“…we have Peter Discoe speaking critically of bloggers when it was apparently a newspaper and a news letter that somehow initially got the story wrong…”

There used to be a real difference between journalists and bloggers. Judging by the blog owner’s comments here, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. That sort of dilution serves no one and is why I sometimes have a hard time taking seriously what passes here for “reporting”.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

Just a quick update to state that I still have never heard back from Peter Discoe from my email to him asking for comment on this story back in November. I have also found out that Discoe has not confirmed with either Edwin Brown or Brown’s lawyer that he intends to fully walk away from the “Sprout” name. I’m working on a follow up. Stay tuned.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

Update to my previous comment left a few minutes ago… I finally heard back from Mr. Discoe.

First some background.

After this story broke, Discoe told Sprout that he intended to modify their trademark application to limit their use of “Sprout” to components and accessories and not bikes. In other words, Discoe and FCBC/Swobo would have still attempted to use the “Sprout” name even though Brown didn’t want them to.

I asked Discoe in a recent email if he intends to completely abandon any use of the “Sprout” name and he replied: “we’re moving forward with another model name for the accessory line of the child-related brand.”