Peloton Wants to Say the S-Word

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Peloton is scheduling more spinning classes than your local gym these days, but it’s not allowed to say so.

Believe it or not, the company is legally barred from using the term “spinning” because it — along with “spin” — was trademarked by rival Mad Dogg Athletics 20 years ago.

Now, the maker of the trendiest home exercise bike is heading to court to fight for the right to say “spin.”

Not Your Average YouTube Drama

Spats on YouTube over videogames or celebrity gossip are fairly common, but the opposing parties are more often high schoolers than executives.

This time, the video platform was a launch pad for corporate IP drama:

  • In December, Mad Dogg demanded Peloton take down a video from its YouTube page featuring a group called the “Mocha Spin Docs,” objecting to the use of the word ‘spin’. Mad Dogg has also slapped Peloton with an infringement lawsuit over its exercise bike patents.
  • This week, Peloton retaliated with petitions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, claiming “spin class and spin bike are part of the fitness lexicon.”

Peloton’s Point: Peloton isn’t just spinning tales. Terms like “escalator” and “butterscotch” were once trademarks, but their use in common parlance over time has nullified their legal protections. The process is known as “genericide”.

University of New Hampshire professor of trademark law, Alexandra Roberts says Peloton has a chance to cancel Mad Dogg’s registration if it “rounds up evidence that a lot of consumers describe what they do on a Peloton bike as ‘spinning’.” A head-to-head bike race between CEOs to settle the matter would probably be more of a crowd-pleaser.

Double the Fitness, Double the Income

Peloton rode the wave of home fitness enthusiasm last year. Whether new stationary bike owners pedaled their way into shape or stared at their investment like home decor, Peloton came out smiling:

  • Revenue for the company’s 2020 fiscal year was $1.8 billion, a 100% year-over-year increase, and subscription revenue grew 99% to $121.2 million.

Peloton projects both revenue and subscriptions to almost double again in its 2021 fiscal.

the takeaway

However you phrase it, Peloton has done quite well riding the lockdown spinni- er… electric biking craze.