Peloton Challenges ‘SPINNING’ Trademark Against Rival Firm

Peloton Challenges ‘SPINNING’ Trademark Against Rival Firm

What is a Generic Trademark?

Peloton Interactive, inc. challenged rival company Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. by asserting ‘spin’ and ‘spinning’ as generic terms in the fitness lexicon.

The American fitness platform company has filed petitions to cancel Mad Dogg’s trademark registrations of ‘SPIN’, ‘SPINNING’ and ‘SPIN PILATES’ by claiming terms ‘spin’ and ‘spinning’ as ‘generic terms [used] to describe a type of exercise bike and associated in-studio class[es].’ 

What is a generic term? A generic term is understood as the common name of a good or service adjacent to public knowledge or understanding of the particular good or service. A trademark, on the other hand, is a word, phrase, symbol or a combination of these, of which differentiates a good or service from the others on the market. 

It is possible for a trademark to become ‘genericised,’ meaning a trademark loses its identifying function over time. When the associated good or service gains a significant market share due to gains in popularity, the trademark can become genericised, transforming the mark from denoting the source of a good or service to one of which denotes the good or service itself. 

Well known examples of genericised marks include aspirin, thermos and band-aid. 

Mad Dogg has protected the term ‘SPINNING’ as in ‘providing training and instruction to others by simulating an outdoor bicycle workout completed indoors on a stationary bicycle’ and ‘providing facilities for recreation, physical fitness, exercising activities, fitness instruction and fitness consultation’. The company’s protection of ‘SPIN’ comes under ‘stationary exercise bicycles’ and ‘physical fitness instruction’. The protection of these terms came into action in 1993 and 1998 respectively. The protection of ‘SPIN PILATES’ came later at 2007, as in ‘providing physical fitness instruction and consultation in the fields of health and exercise; health club services, namely, providing instruction and equipment in the field of physical exercise.’ 

Indoor cycling, or spin cycling in particular, was in its inception when Mad Dogg looked to own the rights to the terms ‘SPIN’ and ‘SPINNING’. Spin cycling became a boutique fitness favourite over the years as its popularity accelerated in the late 2010s. Peloton in particular enjoyed a large increase in consumers during Covid-times due to the closure of gyms. One could deduce the company’s sudden success as an incentive to file petitions to cancel Mad Dogg’s trademarks. The petition cited rival companies such as SoulCycle, who also use the terms ‘spin’ and ‘spinning’ as generic terms. 

Mad Dogg has retaliated in their own way, although not through trademarks but via patents. The company had previously filed a lawsuit against Peloton, claiming Peloton bikes as infringing upon their bike patents. It is reported Mad Dogg has also asked for the removal of content on Peloton’s social media channels, particularly media referencing the terms ‘spin’ and ‘spinning. 

Mad Dogg has since made a statement on the use of its marks, expressing them as ‘important business assets’ meant to be treated with ‘care and respect’. The company states: 

‘These marks are brand names that serve to identify the unique fitness products and programs offered by Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.’

A response to Mad Dogg’s declaration is included in Peloton’s filing, which states: 

‘Enough is enough. It is time to put a stop to Mad Dogg’s tactic of profiting by threatening competitors, marketplaces and even journalists with enforcement of generic trademarks.’

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