Survival of the Fittest

Lululemon and Peloton each filed suit against one another over patent disputes

Two giants in the fitness space are going to battle in court over athletic apparel designs. Lululemon filed a patent lawsuit in the Los Angeles federal court against Peloton for allegedly copying designs of their sports bras and leggings. However, the lawsuit ensued after Peloton filed a suit against Lululemon in the Manhattan federal court, seeking a declaration that Lululemon’s claims had no merit. Yet, the full litigation soap opera begins even earlier. On November 11, 2021, Lululemon sent a demand letter to Peloton, threatening to sue if Peloton did not stop the sale of the alleged patent infringing products.

Curiously, Lululemon and Peloton previously partnered on a five-year co-branding relationship. Peloton branded Lululemon apparel and sold it with their branding added to the clothing items. The partnership with Lululemon was one of many co-branding relationships Peloton had with athletic wear companies. As part of the deal’s structure, Peloton purchased Lululemon products at wholesale and thereafter sent the apparel to their own printer where the products would feature Peloton’s marking. Once branded, Peloton would sell the products. Despite the success, Peloton found the process inefficient; Peloton was unable to keep up with demand. Rather than continue this relationship, Peloton cut out the middleman, severing ties with Lululemon and creating their own line of athletic apparel.

Peloton entered the athletic apparel industry with relative ease, having a tremendous community established because of its fitness products — getting into the fitness clothing community was a no-brainer. After Peloton’s launch in September, issues soon followed with Lululemon, which brings us to the demand letter.

The Demand Letter

On November 11th, Lululemon sent Peloton a cease-and-desist letter, demanding Peloton stop selling a handful of their “copycat products.”[1] Lululemon claimed that Peloton misappropriated their designs — specifically that the designs infringed on its patent and trade dress rights.

The “copycat products” include Peloton’s strappy bra, high neck bra, cadent peak bra, cadent laser dot bra, and cadent laser dot leggings. Additionally, Lululemon alleged that Peloton sold the ‘One Lux Tight,’ which was a replication of Lululemon’s ‘Align pant’ — one of Lululemon’s all-time best-selling products

Further, Lululemon stated that if Peloton did not comply with their demands, it would file suit against them. Peloton quickly replied, asking for more time to answer — alleging that they would have an answer for Lululemon by November 24,2021. Lululemon obliged to the request.

Peloton did in fact answer, but with a lawsuit of its own.

Peloton’s Lawsuit

Soon after receiving the demand letter from Lululemon, Peloton and its legal team got to work.

On November 24th, Peloton filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan federal court against Lululemon, claiming that the six alleged design infringements lacked any merit.[2] Peloton further adds that the two fitness companies’ designs and products are easily distinguishable and that Lululemon’s designs are too obvious to warrant patent protection.

Peloton is seeking a court declaration, stating that Peloton is not infringing on any of Lululemon’s patents and trade dress — that Lululemon’s accusations are unfounded.

A once amicable breakup turned sour. Surely, the demand letter did not sit right with Peloton and rather than being subject to legal action, they acted first. As a result, Lululemon replied with a lawsuit of its own.

Lululemon’s Lawsuit

Lululemon, blindsided by Peloton’s lawsuit, followed through with its original threat from the demand letter — filing a suit on November 29th against Peloton in Los Angeles federal court.[3] Lululemon is seeking triple damages for what Lululemon calls a “willful” infringement of their patent designs.

Lululemon believes that Peloton is looking to capitalize off of the companies’ shared branding agreement by selling copies of their designs in the same manner that they sold the co-branded apparel.

The lawsuits will be interesting to follow, and we will make updates as the cases move forward. Both sides will likely find it best to settle with some form of an interest or large sum payment agreement.

To view the patent infringement claims with examples, look here.




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