MADISON, WIS. (CN) – Despite getting $350,000 a year for use of his name, three-time Tour de France champ Greg LeMond violated a distributorship agreement with Trek Bicycles by buying high-priced machines at employee discount and selling them directly to customers, Trek claims in Federal Court. Trek also claims LeMond is harming its business and reputation by publicly denigrating another Trek bicyclist, Lance Armstrong.
Trek says it has paid LeMond more than $5 million since 1995, and spent millions more to design, make and sell bicycles with the LeMond trademark. It claims it’s paid him $350,000 a year for use of his name, under a 10-year contract they signed in 1999. The contract gives Trek “exclusive right to sell and distribute LeMond Bicycles in the Territory in the Contract Period,” the complaint states.
Notwithstanding his business acumen, Trek says, LeMond violated the contract by repeatedly buying expensive machines at a discount and reselling them himself.
Trek says it found out about this on March 15, when one of two customers who had ordered LeMond Zurich bicycles from a dealer, at $2,800 apiece, “returned and informed Trek’s Dealer that he and the other customer were able to get LeMond-branded bicycles directly from Greg LeMond himself, at a price much lower than the retail price. The customer explained that since they were saving over 50% by buying from Greg LeMond instead of the from the Dealer, they ordered La Victories, a more expensive LeMond-branded bicycle – $5,279.99 suggested retail price – instead of the Zurich bicycles they had ordered from the Dealer.”
Trek states: “Contrary to the contract promises and Trek’s reasonable expectations, Greg LeMond has repeatedly damaged his brand, and Trek’s other business interests. Instead of helping to grow a valuable business, Greg LeMond has for years impaired, and now destroyed, 13 years’ efforts by Trek and its dealers.”
Trek adds, “Just days ago, Greg LeMond attempted to purchase two more LaVictoire’s at employee pricing. … Greg LeMond has resold, bartered for value or otherwise distributed many or most of the other bicycles that he purchased from Trek at employee pricing.”
The other aspect of Trek’s complaint focuses on LeMond’s repeated public criticism of Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner and Trek’s most prominent endorser. The complaint quotes from numerous emails from Trek customers who said they were outraged at LeMond’s disparagement of Armstrong.
Some of the emails clearly state that the potential customers refused to buy Trek bikes because of LeMond’s attacks upon Armstrong, a cancer survivor whose story and exploits have created legions of devoted fans around the world.
“For example, one customer wrote, ‘I was considering purchasing a LeMond bike but after hearing the comments he has been making about Lance Armstrong the only thing I would use it for is an anchor for my boat. Have fun selling boats(;) what a great spokesperson,'” the complaint states.
Trek seeks declaratory judgment that LeMond violated his contract, so Trek can terminate its agreement with LeMond Cycling.
Trek is based in Waterloo, Wis., defendant LeMond Cycling in Wayzata, Minn.
Trek is represented by Ralph Weber with Gass Weber Mullins of Milwaukee.