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High-End Activewear Brand Sues E-Tailer for ‘Misleading’ Adverts

The activewear label Alo, also known as Alo Yoga, is suing Italic, an e-tailer that claims to sell “the highest quality products at the lowest prices,” for a pair of comparative advertisements it claims are false and misleading.

Filed in federal court last week, the complaint targets ads that place Italic and Alo sports bras and leggings side by side. This juxtaposition, Alo alleges, is “misleading” because it suggests the two products are the same “in all respects except for the price.”

The two ads depict an Alo and Italic product, each identified only by a price and brand name. As no specific product name is given in either instance, Alo argues, consumers are then unable to make their own comparisons, “which would reveal the differences in quality, craftsmanship and materials.”

The athleisure brand also notes that the two ads are “literally false” because the prices listed for both Alo’s sports bra and leggings are lower than what it actually sells those products for. The Alo leggings featured on a Los Angeles billboard, for example, are described as costing $91. The product that the brand concludes was depicted in that advertisement actually sell for $118. Displaying the incorrect price “devalues the product” and “misleads consumers” into thinking the two products are the same, Alo said.

Italic has built its name on selling products—in addition to apparel, it sells home, pet, beauty and travel goods—at a lower price than mainstream household-name brands. “We’ve eliminated traditional brand and retail markups, so you pay 50-80% less for the exact same quality,” Italic’s front page claims. Furthermore, these products are presented as coming from a network of independent manufacturers that are the same as those “behind your favorite brands.”

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On its retail site, Italic specifically claims that the leggings and sports bra it sells use the same manufacturer as Alo. Elsewhere on Italic’s site, the company claims that these products are manufactured by Intramural Goods. According to Alo, this company does not make the corresponding Alo products.

“Italic’s false and misleading manufacturing statement on its website, coupled with the side-by-side comparisons of Italic and Alo products in the bus and billboard advertisements, falsely implies parity between the products,” Alo wrote in its complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that Italic’s actions constitute false advertising, false designation of origin and unfair competition. It also contends that the advertisements’ use of Alo’s trademarked name was done in “bad faith,” does not constitute a “nominative fair use” in advertising and amounts to trademark infringement.

The fragrance company Diptyque brought a similar lawsuit against Italic in October. Like Alo, it accused Italic of false advertising, unfair competition and trademark infringement. It ultimately settled three weeks later.

Italic didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.