Skip to main content

New Balance Lawsuit Forces Startup Rebrand

New Balance came out on top in a legal bout over what it claims were an activewear brand’s attempts to “deliberately free ride” on the former’s famous name.

Vitality announced its rebrand Monday after the sneaker giant sued the Denver startup previously known as Balance Athletica for trademark infringement back in late 2020. Boston-based New Balance took issue with the label playing in the same athletic space with “balance” prominent in its brand name.

What’s more, though the maker of size-inclusive leggings, sports bras and more isn’t quite four years old, New Balance submitted evidence that some consumers are already mixing up the two companies. It pointed to a Poshmark listing for Balance Athletica rider shorts categorized under the New Balance brand, suggesting that “[a]ctual confusion in the marketplace has already occurred,” according to Massachusetts federal court documents.

New Balance further took issue with its smaller rival’s trademark application showing it planned to market clothing and shoes with the phrase “achieve balance,” though the plaintiff  “prominently used the Achieve Mark on nearly every shoe box it sold,” or roughly “hundreds of millions of pairs” since the 1990s, it said.

Court documents suggest the pair settled their dispute out of court in September, paving the way for Vitality, which staged a runway show the same month at New York Fashion Week, to re-emerge with its new name Monday.

CEO Taylor Dilk, who co-founded the dual-gender label with chief operating officer Steve Dilk and chief of design Chloe Chamberlain, said the company is “eager to embrace this evolution and forward motion that is rooted in the mission of Vitality.”

“Our mission of inclusivity, commitment to our customers, and focus on confidence-inducing apparel will remain at the forefront,” she said in a statement. “A sense of purpose is one of the most important things in our lives and supporting everybody in their pursuit of a purposeful existence is a concept we believe in wholeheartedly. What started as a pursuit has now evolved into a purpose.”

Like numerous peers in fashion, Vitality says it’s planning to green parts of its supply chain by switching to eco-friendly packaging and fulfillment this year with additional planet-minded changes to come. It didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.