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Peloton Goes on the Offensive After Lululemon Infringement Claims

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Peloton is taking Lululemon, a former co-branding partner, to court to clear its name of allegations of patent infringement.

The fitness platform filed a complaint in Manhattan federal court Wednesday seeking “declaratory judgment” that its apparel products do not infringe on Lululemon’s design patents and trade dress, as claimed in a cease-and-desist letter that Peloton said it received earlier this month.

Though Peloton has sold apparel since 2014, these drops traditionally have been limited to seasonal and cultural collections designed in collaboration with brand partners, such as last month’s collaboration with Adidas and Beyoncé’s Ivy Park. That changed this fall with the debut of Peloton Apparel, a private-label brand that sells a mix of men’s, women’s and gender-neutral styles and accessories.

Lululemon’s cease and desist arrived just two months’ after Peloton Apparel’s launch. Per Peloton’s lawsuit, the letter alleged that five of its products—four bras and one pair of leggings—infringed on design patents held by Lululemon. It also reportedly asserted that a Peloton-branded legging designed by another company infringed on the activewear brand’s trade dress rights.

Should Peloton not cease selling the products, Lululemon reportedly stated it would file an infringement lawsuit against the at-home cycle maker. The company also demanded an accounting of Peloton’s sales for the allegedly infringing products, as well as “documents and information shared between the parties or simply relating to their co-branding relationship,” according to the fitness brand.

Peloton's lawsuit included a side-by-side comparison of its items and Lululemon's patents.

Peloton claims that there are “numerous clear and obvious differences” between its products and Lululemon’s patents. In this case, it pointed to the mesh layer on the back of its bra, the straight cut along the back and the alternative lattice arrangement on its bra.

Peloton, however, claims that there are “numerous clear and obvious differences” between its products and Lululemon’s patented designs. Additionally, it insists that Peloton and Lululemon’s respective logos are distinctive and well-recognized enough that confusion between their products is a “virtual impossibility.”

Furthermore, Peloton argues that Lululemon’s design patents are invalid because they are “anticipated and/or obvious.” To proves its point, it highlights patents or products from brands like Asics and Sweaty Betty that it asserts incorporated “basic features” of the allegedly infringed-upon patents.

Peloton included side-by-side comparisons of Lululemon's patents and designs that predated those patents that it says contained the basic features of Lululemon's designs.

Peloton claimed that two of the patents Lululemon cited in its cease-and-desist letter included “basic features” that had already been incorporated in a patent issued to Asics in 2011.

Peloton’s lawsuit comes at a busy time for Lululemon. The athleisure giant’s central apparel business has soared during the pandemic, placing it on track to surpass Nike as the United States’ largest women’s activewear brand, according to the NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service. The company’s success in clothing comes as it prepares to launch its first footwear styles early next year.

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