Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart
Volume 21, Issue 12

Are you headed toward the peloton?
Use IP as a tailwind!

By Michael B. Comeau

The term “peloton” refers to the main field or group of cyclists in a race, but is better known, at least recently, as the name of the company that sells the popular exercise bikes and treadmills. As these exercise bikes and treadmills have gained popularity (e.g., reached the “peloton” of the market), the company has encountered a wide range of intellectual property (“IP”) issues that serve as a great reminder of the importance of (i) protecting your own IP and (ii) reducing the risk of infringement of the IP of others, particularly as your company grows. 

Protecting Your Own IP

Peloton® is using its patents to protect its competitive advantage and fend off what it considers to be copycats.  For example, Peloton filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Flywheel® asserting that Flywheel’s leaderboard display feature infringed Peloton patents dating back long before such features became popular. Filing patent applications early in the product development process can be extremely beneficial!

Patents aren’t the only IP Peloton asserted – Peloton has also filed trademark and trade dress infringement claims against another competitor, Echelon®, asserting that Echelon’s bike copied the color scheme of the Peloton bike. While patents often come to mind first in protecting products, trademarks and trade dress (for distinctive product configurations, colors, etc.) can also provide valuable protection! 

IP of Others

Peloton has also been on the receiving end of infringement allegations and lawsuits. One of the more prominent patent infringement cases sets NordicTrack® against Peloton, with NordicTrack (and its parent Icon Health & Fitness) asserting that the automatic resistance feature of newer Peloton bikes infringes Icon’s patents. Patent clearance searching for new products (and new features of existing products!) can help reduce the risk of receiving patent infringement allegations.

Peloton has also defended a copyright infringement lawsuit relating to its use of copyrighted songs during workout classes. The process of licensing music can be very complicated as there can be different owners of different rights in the same song, so it’s often a good idea to “tread” carefully when incorporating copyrighted music into any product (or website) to make sure all required licenses have been obtained from all of the necessary copyright owners.

Peloton is also facing allegations that the name of its newer bike, “Bike+”, infringes the trademark rights of a fitness app company. Trademark clearance searching, including for unregistered trademarks, can reduce the risk of receiving trademark infringement assertions. 

Finish Ahead of the Group

As your company excels in its race in the market, you’re likely to encounter competitors trying to “draft” in your success and other competitors trying to slow you down. A strong IP strategy can help your company finish at the front!

Fishman Stewart IP Litigator Maxwell Goss Launches The Litigation War Room Podcast

Maxwell Goss, an IP litigation attorney with Fishman Stewart PLLC, has launched a new podcast called The Litigation War Room.

The Litigation War Room is about litigation from beginning to end – from pretrial demands and initial pleadings all the way through to trial and appeal. Featuring interviews with some of the nation’s most accomplished courtroom lawyers, the Litigation War Room offers strategies, resources, and war stories of interest to litigators in all areas of law.

The initial lineup includes renowned lawyers from around the country. Guests offer engaging stories and practical insights on a range of issues including examining witnesses, maximizing damages, persuading judges, and building a law firm, among others.

“This has been a fun project to put together,” says Goss, the podcast’s host. “My hope is that the Litigation War Room will be enjoyable and useful for litigators at the same time.”

The podcast can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, and Castbox. Listeners can also visit www.thelitigationwarroom.com for full episodes, show notes, and more.

IDENTIFYING, SECURING AND ADVANCING CREATIVITY®