Peloton has grown its brand in unprecedented ways in recent years. While stationary bikes have been around for decades, Peloton modernized the concept by putting it online. Instead of just pedaling in a gym or at home, the modern iteration enables users to connect with friends elsewhere to “go for a ride.” There are also classes bent on building exercise communities and TV ads with trainers and celebrities like Michael Phelps. The company expanded the formula/lifestyle to include other strength training and running products.
It also partnered with Lululemon, initially selling its clientele Lululemon products rebranded under the Peloton name. The two concluded that partnership in September of 2021. Peloton described the split at the time as amicable, but it wanted to sell clothing it manufactures instead of rebranding Lululemon’s clothing.
Lululemon sends cease-and-desist
Lululemon clothing brand has a large following. It sells stylish workout wear at a premium price that is particularly popular in the yoga community, but the company is well established in the athletic apparel industry. Sensing a territory incursion, the Canadian multinational sent a cease-and-desist letter on November 11, 2021, claiming Peloton’s new clothing line violates patents owned by Lululemon for its signature apparel, including tights and bras. Lululemon promised that legal action to safeguard its intellectual property would follow if Peloton did not stop selling its’ “copy-cat products.”
Peloton does not back down
Peloton countered by filing a complaint in the Southern District of New York on November 24, 2021. The company claimed that the two apparel lines are clearly different. It also pointed out that the easily recognizable logos further differentiate the two, arguing that brand confusion is an “impossibility.” Peloton asked the court to declare that there was no infringement.
Lululemon files lawsuit
Lululemon filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Central California on November 29, accusing Peloton of trade dress infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition. It seeks an injunction against Peloton and a jury trial for damages to reputation and monetary relief. The suit focuses on five Peloton-branded bras and leggings products (such as the Strappy Bra and the One Luxe Tight) that infringe on six Lululemon patents.
This back and forth is how disputes often unfold
This case offers a typical step-by-step example of how two companies come into a dispute over products. It does not mean they will litigate. Every situation is different, but those who feel that their products or clothing line is infringed upon (perhaps by a former business partner) should discuss the dispute and the surrounding issues with an experienced intellectual property.