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Trademark board sides with Ross family members, cancels trademark registration

Published April 2, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (BRAIN) — A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office board ruled that Century Sports, Inc. abandoned the Ross bicycle trademark, opening the door for Ross family members to register it and relaunch the brand.

The family lost control of the trademark when Ross Bicycle, which dated to 1948, went bankrupt in 1988. In a bankruptcy auction, Rand International acquired the company and its trademark. Later, Century Sports obtained the trademark when Rand went bankrupt. 

Randy and Shaun Ross, the grandson and great-grandson of company founder Albert Ross, have been preparing to re-launch Ross Bicycles for several years. They've designed a bike line and set up a website for the brand. Originally the website showed bikes with the Ross brand, but late last year the Rosses switched their marketing to a new brand, W.A.R., which stands for We Are Ross. 

Shaun Ross told BRAIN on Thursday that he'd been dreaming of relaunching the family brand since he was a kid, but said he only took steps to regain it when it became clear to him that Century was no longer making Ross bikes. 

"I followed this for over 10 years," he said. Shaun is a former BMX racer and has worked in advertising and marketing in the bike industry. He ran an action sports e-commerce company and also worked with his father on a stepper bike brand in the early 2000s. Randy Ross worked for the family company for years prior to the bankruptcy. His father, Sherwood “Jerry” Ross, worked for the company before and after the bankruptcy. Shaun Ross said he talked with his grandfather, who died in 2013, about regaining the family brand. "It was one of his dying wishes. He said if they ever stop manufacturing Ross bikes, you should start it up again."

The Rosses filed a petition to cancel the trademark in 2017. Their petition charged that Century had failed to manufacture or sell Ross bikes for at least three years, the threshold for abandonment cancellation. They each submitted written testimony saying they could find no signs Century was using the trademark in the marketplace. They noted that Century had even abandoned the and web domains, which they were able to acquire for small fees. 

Steven Goldmeier, a part-owner of Century, didn't respond to an email BRAIN sent Thursday morning asking for his comment. 

In legal filings and to BRAIN in previous conversations, Goldmeier insisted that Century has continued to market and sell Ross-branded bikes. The company submitted marketing materials, an online bike listing and even a wholesale invoice from last summer to the trademark board considering the cancelation petition. But the board ruled much of that evidence was inadmissible for technical reasons. In an opinion released last week, the board said that even the admissible evidence was "vague."

The board granted the Rosses' petition to cancel the trademark registration and said the registration "will be canceled in due course." Shaun Ross told BRAIN he has already applied to register the trademark.

He said the company that he and his father founded, Ross Bicycles LLC, will operate with two brands: W.A.R. will be the higher end line, sold consumer direct and through IBDs. The initial line includes two gravel bike models, two hardtails, and two beach cruisers. He expects to receive the first shipments of W.A.R. bikes as early as June 15. The Ross brand will be used on a line of bikes offered to mass merchant retailers, he said.

"I have big plans for WAR and Ross. I'm 39, I think I have another 60-plus years in me, God willing. I want to build it up into one of the biggest brands in the industry again," he said.

Related story: The Ross family wants to bring back its bike brand. The brand's owner says it never went away. (Nov. 2019) 

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