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Platoon sues Lululemon in ‘similar’ clothing from Clash Over the Parties

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A behind-the-scenes brawl between Lululemon and Peloton has spilled over into federal court, with the exercise bike maker arguing that Lululemon recently threatened it with litigation over his equally striking clothing. According to the declaratory judgment action she filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on November 24, Peloton claims that just over two months after launching her own sportswear collection and putting on end of its 5-year partnership with Lululemon, the Vancouver-based sportswear company, alleged that a handful of private label Pelotons products infringed its design patents and a pair of Peloton-branded leggings infringed its commercial dress rights.

In setting the stage in its complaint, Peloton claims that in addition to being the world’s leading interactive fitness platform, [it] has its own private label clothing brand, Peloton Apparel. While the New York-based company claims it began selling other brands of clothing to its exercise equipment members in 2014, in response to member demand, it officially launched its private label product line. in September 2021.

Before launching its own in-house collection, Peloton claims to have ended its existing partnership with Lululemon. At the time, the end of the Peloton-Lululemon co-branding relationship which saw Peloton selling a variety of Lululemon clothing products co-branded with its own name / logo was amicable, Peloton claims, noting that Lululemon did not in no way opposed Platoons termination decision or Platoons offer of its own sportswear.

That changed earlier this month, however, according to Peloton, as he says he received a cease and desist letter from Lululemon on November 11, in which Lululemon alleged that five of the Pelotons and private label, namely Pelotons Strappy Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra and Cadent Laser Dot Bra infringe its design patents, and another of Peloton brand sportswear, the Cadent Laser Dot leggings, infringes its commercial rights.

In the November 11 cease and desist letter, Peloton claims that Lululemon’s attorney said that unless Peloton stopped selling the allegedly counterfeit products, it would bring an infringement action.

Instead of complying with Lululemon’s demands, Peloton took legal action, asking a court to settle the matter with a declaration that: (1) Peloton did not violate and does not violate the Lululemon patents claimed; (2) the claimed Lululemon patents are invalid; and / or (3) Peloton has not infringed, and is not infringing, Lululemon’s purported trade dress rights.

Patent Pushback Platoons

Addressing Lululemon’s patent infringement claims first, Peloton argues that the company’s claims have no basis, as even a quick comparison of Lululemon’s patented designs with allegedly infringing Peloton products reveals many clear and obvious differences. that make it easy to distinguish products. Beyond that, even though the products are sufficiently similar, Peloton asserts that the design patents claimed by Lululemons are invalid because, at a minimum, they are anticipated and / or obvious and, therefore, cannot be infringed.

It should be made clear here that Lululemon claims design patent rights, that is, rights that protect the overall visual appearance of a manufactured item, including the color and shape of a product or a combination of these in the “ornamental design” of its clothing products. Here it takes the form of the design elements of various sports bras and a pair of leggings. Essentially, he’s arguing for protection in the appearance of these things, as opposed to the way they work, the latter falling within the realm of utility patents.

Fending off Lululemons’ infringement claims, Peloton highlights some of the limitations of design patents, primarily, that protection only exists for new designs, or more specifically, new and non-obvious ones. Here, Peloton is claiming that various prior art cause the design elements of the sports bra and leggings to be already foreseen or would have been evident by the time Lululemon filed its patent applications. As such, Peloton claims to have noted counterfeit Lululemons sports bra patents and that Lululemons’ patents are invalid due to lack of novelty and / or non-obviousness, and therefore cannot be infringed. .

In addition to challenging the validity of the patents that Lululemon relies on to defend its case, Peloton says the court should issue a declaration in its favor because there are clear and obvious differences between its sportswear and Lululemon’s patented designs. .

Citing some of the main differences between his Cadent Laser Dotbra and the ornamental pattern at the center of the LululemonsD836.291 patent, Peloton argues that the 291 patent claims a translucent, transparent or transparent mesh or fabric, while the dotted pattern on [its] The Cadent Laser Dot Bra is a pattern cut from the fabric of the bra itself. Furthermore, the shape of the insert claimed in the ‘291 patent is also different from that of [its] produced, by Peloton, as the ‘291 patent shows a triangle with two rounded sides, while its “unique dotted pattern looks more like a Christmas tree shape.”

These and other differences are important because the successful application of a design patent requires that an ordinary observer with knowledge of the state of the art and paying the attention that a buyer usually gives finds that the offending product and the patented design appear to be much the same.

(Since the Federal Circuit decided the Egyptian Goddess, Inc. c. Swisa, Inc. case in 2008, the only test to determine whether a design patent has been infringed is the ordinary observer test. The caveat here is that only the non-functional elements and the ornamental aspects of the functional elements can be considered as part of the ordinary analysis of the observer, and therefore, if the differences between these points of novelty and the design complained of are such that the overall design of the patented and offending model produced are not substantially the same, a finding of infringement is inappropriate.)

Although Peloton does not claim the functionality in its complaint, it maintains that clear differences between its products and those described in Lululemons’ patents prevent an ordinary observer from concluding that the respective designs are similar enough to constitute an infringement.

On the brands front

In its complaint, Peloton also rejects the Lululemons trademark claim, saying its rival fails on likelihood of confusion, which is the critical element in determining infringement in the context of a trademark. In addition to many clear and obvious differences in design, confusion between the two companies’ products is a virtual impossibility, she claims, because [its] and Lululemons brands and logos are also distinctive and well recognized and clearly represented on the respective products of the company.

The problem is the trade dress of Lululemons Align, which he claims Peloton infringed by selling the Peloton One Luxe tights. On that front, Peloton takes issue with the Align trade dress, itself, arguing that Lululemon has no rights to the configuration, as the features of the Align pants are ornamental and do not function as a source identifier. In the event that they are not ornamental, Peloton claims that Lululemon still does not retain the rights to the design of the Align pants, as the elements that make it up (i) are not distinctive so they can function as an identifier. source, and (ii) have not acquired any distinctiveness and / or secondary meaning so that they can function as a source identifier.

(The acquired distinctiveness part is important, as the Supreme Court has previously held that a product design can never be inherently distinctive. As such, for the trade dress of a product design to be protected , the holder of the alleged trade dress must establish that it has acquired a secondary meaning.)

And yet, Peloton claims that even though Lululemons claimed that the Align trade dress was protectable, its One Luxe leggings do not infringe this trade dress because consumers are unlikely to be confused as its brand appears on its leggings and it The same goes for Lululemon.

With the above in mind, Peloton seeks a court declaration that it did not infringe Lululemons design patents or trade dress, as well as declarations that the patents and trade dress are valid and unenforceable. . Peloton is also seeking reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses, as well as any other relief that the Court may consider fair, just and appropriate.

In a statement issued on Friday, a representative for Lululemon said of the newly filed case: “At Lululemon, we are known for our product innovation and our iconic design. We will defend our property rights to protect the integrity of our brand and protect our intellectual property.

The case is Peloton Interactive, Inc. v. Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc., 1: 21-cv-10071 (SDNY).

Sources

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2/ https://www.thefashionlaw.com/peloton-is-suing-lululemon-in-clash-over-the-parties-lookalike-apparel/

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