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Licensing Law: Peloton Sues Lululemon After Branding Breakup

Two giants of the fitness industry are facing off in court, soon after a five-year licensing and branding deal between Lululemon and Peloton ended in an amicable breakup.

Peloton Interactive, the exercise bike company, has now sued Lululemon Athletica after the fitness fashion house threatened its own lawsuit over Peloton’s new apparel line.

Peloton filed its lawsuit in Manhattan federal court last week, less than three months after Peloton launched its own branded apparel line. Prior to that time, Peloton and Lululemon partnered on apparel through a co-branding deal. Soon after that launch, Lululemon threatened legal action based on the designs of five new Peloton products. Lululemon claims Peloton’s Strappy Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Bra and Cadent Laser Dot Leggings have infringed six of Lululemon design patents.

In a Nov. 11 letter, Lululemon legal team said it would sue Peloton unless it stopped selling its new apparel.

But Peloton said its products and Lululemon’s designs are easy to tell apart, and Lululemon’s designs are too “obvious” to deserve patent protection. In its own lawsuit, Peloton says Lululemon’s claims of patent infringement “lack any merit.”

“On top of the numerous clear and obvious differences in design, Peloton and Lululemon’s brands and logos are also distinctive and well-recognized, making confusion between products a virtual impossibility,” Peloton said.

Peloton wants a court declaration that it has not infringed Lululemon patents and trade dress, and that Lululemon’s patent claims are invalid.

The apparel line is part of Peloton’s diversification efforts. The company originally sold stationary bikes and treadmills, but sales growth in those categories has slowed after more people were vaccinated, and began going back to gyms. Peloton has now invested heavily in fitness apps and apparel as ways to generate more revenue.

Lululemon responded to the filing of the lawsuit on Friday, saying, “At Lululemon we are known for our product innovation and iconic design. We will defend our proprietary rights, to protect the integrity of our brand, and to safeguard our intellectual property.”