This week the ongoing dispute between Lululemon and Peloton has further escalated with Lululemon’s lawsuit against the fitness company for patent infringement over new designs of its leggings and sports bras. Lululemon accuses Peloton of blatantly ripping off its original designs and claiming them as its own.
According to the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Central District of California, Lululemon stated that Peloton infringed on patents with five Peloton-branded clothing items, including the Strappy Bra, the Cadent Laser Dot Bra, and the Cadent Laser Dot Legging, which Lululemon claimed infringe on six of its own patents. Lululemon also claimed that Peloton’s One Luxe Tight, a pair of leggings that retails for $90, is a copycat of Lululemon’s best-selling Align Pant ($98-$118).
The Canadian company is seeking triple damages for the alleged “willful” infringement. According to Reuters, Lululemon filed its lawsuit five days after Peloton brought a case to Manhattan federal court, “seeking a declaration that Lululemon’s claims had no merit.”
This year, the two companies split up their co-branding relationship in a reportedly amicable way. While Lululemon cunningly created a market for pricey high-end yoga pants back in the late 90s, Peloton introduced its own line of street and fitness apparel in September of this year.
While Peloton has yet to make a public comment, the company is pushing back on the infringement claims, and this whole debacle potentially sheds some light on the limitations of design patent rights – Peloton claims that they are only designed to protect completely new designs or non-obvious ones, making differentiating the variations of strappy sports bras and leggings tricky terrain. A quick scan at the items under accusation and you can see obvious similarities between the bras and tights, but Peloton claims that “even a quick comparison of the Lululemon patented designs with the allegedly infringing Peloton products reveals numerous clear and obvious differences that allow the products to be easily distinguished.”
Stayed tuned as this story develops.