Breaking a Sweat Over Patents: Lululemon and Peloton’s Competing Lawsuits

Photo by Artificial Photography (Unsplash)

Shawn Dhue is an IPilogue Writer and a 2L JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Intellectual property law truly is incorporated in every aspect of society and the issue of lacking creativity in designing sports bras and leggings only reassures that statement. On November 24, 2021, Peloton Interactive Inc, known for its interactive exercise bike, sued Lululemon Athletica Inc. Peloton seeks a court declaration that its new clothing design does not infringe on Lululemon’s design patent.

This lawsuit comes after Lululemon, known for its athletic apparel and technical clothing, wrote a letter dated November 11, 2021, to Peloton threatening to sue if they do not stop selling specific items from its new clothing line. It only took five days for Lululemon to follow through with its threat and countersue Peloton for infringing on its design patents.

Peloton and Lululemon have a long history with each other. The two companies had a co-branding relationship for five years, where Peloton agreed to make and put their branding on wholesale purchases of Lululemon’s apparel. This agreement ended earlier this year “amicabl[y]” as Peloton commented that the process was not efficient for the high demands it experienced. The end of this partnership led to Peloton releasing its own clothing in September 2021, from which Lululemon alleges multiple copies of its clothing designs.

As of now, Lululemon claims that Peloton has infringed on six of their patent designs with these articles of clothing: the Cadent Laser Dot Bra, the Strappy Bra, the Cadent Peak Bra, the High Neck Bra, and the Cadent Laser Dot Leggings. Peloton has responded to these claims saying that Lululemon “lack[s] any merit.” Peloton says that their clothing designs are easy to distinguish from Lululemon’s designs and that Lululemon does not deserve patent protection for their “obvious” designs.

Following up with its claim, Lululemon says that “Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knock-offs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.” Lululemon is also claiming that instead of responding to its November 11 letter, Peloton asked Lululemon for more time in order to prepare their legal complaint.

Screenshot from Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc v Peloton Interactive Inc, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 21-09252.

Lululemon’s civil action against Peloton make the designs seem somewhat similar; however, the designs are simple enough that patent protection may be an extreme case. With that said, it will be interesting to see the outcome of these cases as the comments from both parties don’t seem relatively “amicable” at this point.

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