Apparel

Lululemon and Peloton battle over leggings and sports-bra designs with back-to-back suits

No one likes it when Mom and Dad fight, but here we are.
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· less than 3 min read

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No one likes it when Mom and Dad fight, but here we are.

Lululemon and Peloton have traded lawsuits over the past few weeks in a battle over leggings and sports-bra designs.

  • Peloton debuted its own line this year, but had previously collabed with Lululemon on co-branded apparel since 2016.

The warm-up: Lululemon filed a suit last week (that many saw coming), accusing Peloton of trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition.

“Unlike innovators such as Lululemon, Peloton did not spend the time, effort, and expense to create an original product line,” Lululemon alleged in the suit. “Instead, Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knockoffs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.”

  • This followed a complaint filed by Peloton on November 24 asking for a declaration judgment stating it did not infringe on Lululemon’s patents.
  • Shannon Higginson, SVP, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Lululemon, wrote in a statement to Retail Brew, “We are confident in our position and look forward to properly resolving this case through the courts.” (Peloton has not responded to a request for comment.)

Eyes on the long run: What makes the case interesting to Douglas Hand, founding member of Hand Baldachin & Associates LLP and an NYU law professor, is that it’s one focused on apparel—which doesn’t have a ton of legal precedent.

  • Most cases relating to design patents have centered around accessories and footwear, he noted.

If Lululemon is successful, Hand said it could open the door for the retailer to go after other brands that make similar-looking products.

But Hand believes there are potential downsides for both companies, depending on how things go: Lululemon’s existing design patents could be invalidated, while Peloton could be cast as a “copycat” artist.

“It all relates to brand,” Hand said. “When people have a lot of different items, which are somewhat ubiquitous, then the reason they’re buying one pant over the other pant really relates to how they feel about the brand. There definitely will be a splash of negative press, I think, for whomever the loser is.”—KM

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