The activewear brand and retailer Lululemon Athletica is well-established, selling premium workout gear that is comfortable and stylish and particularly popular in the yoga community. But it finds itself battling on two fronts. It is currently in an IP dispute with Peloton over the latter’s new workout clothing line. Perhaps smelling blood in the water, Nike filed a lawsuit over Lululemon’s Mirror Home Gym, a remote home trainer.
Lululemon Vs. Peloton
Peloton’s line of home workout equipment made the company into a juggernaut in recent years. Taking the decades-old concept of stationary bikes, Peloton modernized it with computer software, online classes and options that enabled users to connect with people to go for a virtual ride. The Peloton teachers all wore Peloton workout outfits manufactured by Lululemon. Seeking to expand its brand reach and revenue, Peloton ended the relationship in 2021 and replaced it with new clothing lines of its own.
Lululemon sent a cease-and-desist order on November 11, claiming that Peloton’s clothing violated six patents owned by Lululemon, notably the signature Strappy Bra and the One Luxe Tight lines. Peloton countered by filing a complaint, claiming that the two lines are clearly different, with easily recognizable logos differentiating the two. Lululemon then filed a lawsuit on November 29 in the U.S. District Court of Central California, accusing Peloton of trade dress infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition. The company seeks an injunction against Peloton.
When it rains, it pours
Nike is one of the largest sporting apparel companies globally, with a wide range of workout and sports gear. On November 3, as Lululemon was publicly fighting with Peloton, Nike notified Lululemon that its’ Mirror fitness device and its accompanying mobile app infringed on its portfolio of patents going back to 1983, including its Nike Run Club and Nike Training Club apps. It filed a lawsuit on January 6 in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, accusing its smaller competitor of six patent infringements, including technology to enable users to target specific levels of exertion and compete with other users.
Lululemon bought Mirror for $453 million in 2020 when the pandemic raged, and gyms were closed. The deal has not been the game-changer that the company and industry observers said it would be. The gyms have reopened, and the idea of investing $1,000-plus in the wall-mounted unit that uses a monthly subscription for classes seems less tempting. It seems odd that Nike would pick a less than popular and profitable part of Lululemon and not go after others (such as Peloton) as well if they intend to protect tech-based IP.
The back and forth between Lululemon and Peloton is a fairly typical IP dispute between former partners and now competitors. Less clear is the game that Nike is playing. Will it go after others, or just Lululemon? Regardless, it appears that Lululemon’s legal department will be busy in 2022.