Fitness brands Peloton and Lululemon are currently fighting it out in court over patent infringement; but who’s really in the wrong here? The brands were previously business partners, but now Lululemon is arguing that Peloton stole product designs from it.
The Brands Used To Be Partners
Peloton launched its official clothing line in September, but the company has sold workout gear since 2014 through various brand partnerships. In 2016, they teamed up with Lululemon, a fitness apparel brand.
Under the terms of their agreement, Peloton would buy products from Lululemon, then have its own logo printed on the clothing items that were sold to the public. This process was a little longer than Peloton would like, with a year passing between when they saw designs and when the items were actually available for purchase.
The company decided to do away with the middle man and launch their own apparel line, and that’s where the trouble started. On November 11, Lululemon’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to Peloton, claiming that several Peloton products infringed on Lululemon’s designs. These products include different bra types, leggings, and tights.
In the letter, Lululemon’s attorneys also said that the similarities in the products “indicates that Peloton may have used lululemon’s proprietary and trade secret information,” like design specifications that Peloton could have gotten through its previous working relationship with the company.
Peloton Is Fighting Back
Peloton fired back, pointing out differences between the two brands’ products and claiming that, in the case of some products, Lululemon’s patents aren’t even valid. “Almost every retailer in the active wear market offers a similar legging with a banded waist,” the company said, referring to the tights.
It also sued Lululemon, in an effort to preempt the patent infringement lawsuit. Peloton is currently seeking a court declaration that will state that their products don’t infringe on Lululemon’s patents. In their complaint, they argued that both companies had amicably shelved their agreement about the co-branded apparel.
In an emailed statement, a Lululemon spokesperson said, “We will defend our proprietary rights, to protect the integrity of our brand, and to safeguard our intellectual property.”
The two brands are both moving into different areas as they expand their businesses. While Peloton is launching its clothing line, Lululemon is working on its own workout tech. Last year, it acquired the virtual fitness tech company Mirror. The product includes a built-in camera, so users can be seen by their instructor and get feedback.