Peloton Seeks To Invalidate 'Spinning' Trademark Held By Trademark Bully

from the spin-cycle dept

Back in 2010, we discussed that the at-the-time “spin class” craze in the fitness world was encountering the fact that one company, Mad Dogg Athletics, held a trademark on the term “spinning” for use in the fitness industry. Mad Dogg had taken to going around the world and threatening anyone else using the term with trademark infringement as a result. And, to be clear, they had a lot of targets for these threats, which factored into the argument that term was now generic and hadn’t been properly enforced as a trademark for years.

Since 2010, the spin class craze has morphed out of the brick and mortar gym and into home fitness, with the current fad being app-driven home stationary spin bikes. The leader in that field is, of course, Peloton. Mad Dogg sued Peloton for trademark infringement last year over patents it holds for core features of its bikes. In what may be something of a clap back in that dispute, however, Peloton has now petitioned to have Mad Dogg’s “spinning” trademark canceled entirely.

Peloton claimed that rival fitness company Mad Dogg Athletics is “abusively enforcing” its trademark rights of ‘Spinning’ and ‘Spin’ across the indoor biking industry in a petition filed to the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (USPTO) yesterday.

The petition argued that the terms are generic and that Mad Dogg’s lawyers have been ceaseless in their campaign to chase down infringers. It also cites John Baudhuin, co-founder of Mad Dogg, admitting to spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars a year” on litigation.

This is Peloton calling out the game, which is very useful. Rather than focusing primarily on the business of selling spin bikes, Mad Dogg instead seems to be focused on policing its trademark. The argument that the term “spinning” has become generic is only bolstered by the high volume of victims of Mad Dogg’s bullying. In addition, it would be interesting to see Mad Dogg attempt to come up with any evidence that the wider public currently associates the term with its products, because that feels like it would be a stretch to say the least.

Peloton’s petition calls out the extremes to which Mad Dogg has gone in its bullying.

“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.”

Imagine the instant good the USPTO could do simply by invalidating a trademark for what has become a generic term in the fitness industry.

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Companies: mad dogg athletics, peloton

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Comments on “Peloton Seeks To Invalidate 'Spinning' Trademark Held By Trademark Bully”

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29 Comments

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Which makes it even funnier. If this guy dedicated his time to insightful comments about what is wrong with the articles and tore them down in such a way that people might be persuaded to agree with him, that would be one thing.

But, by commenting like he does, all he’s doing is getting people to click through and read the comments that wouldn’t be there if he had kept silent. Thus, generating more page views and comments from people mocking him than if he had just stayed silent, so generating more traffic for the site he claims to hate.

mikey says:

Re: Re: Spin? Peleton?

Spinning very definitely has a meaning in the cycling and fitness domain and very specific one. One that has been used for decades.

Spinning is pedaling at high RPMs and a relatively light individual pedal stroke as opposed to going in a higher gear and each pedal stroke is much harder (they are known as mashers).

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Spin? Peleton?

That is not how trademarks work though. Trademarks are specific words and images associated with a product or service. Zoom, for example, means to fly through space on a rocket, however the word Zoom can be trademarked for an internet communications service and I think was previously trademarked for a line of blistering fast 56k modems.

Spin was the same way, but it became generic as it was easier to say "spin" than "attend a stationary bicycle training to terrible really loud music class".

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Picked the wrong target

Always a fun time reading about a trademark bully going after the wrong target and finding their legal bludgeon of choice at risk of being taken away, completely nullifying their ability to continue their legal thuggery in the future.

Hopefully the USPTO will get this one right and revoke the trademark, because it sounds like Mad Dogg has not only shown that the term shouldn’t be trademarkable in the first place due to how many targets they’ve gone after but that they can’t be trusted to responsibly use the trademark even if it was valid.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No one should be able to trademark simple generic words like spinning trekking etc

It’s fine to trademark simple words, the problem is trying to enforce the trademark against people using them in the generic way. No problem for Trek bicycles to have that trademark, and stop anyone else from making bikes called Trek. Big problem if they try to stop people going for a backcountry hike referring to it as a trek.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Indeed, that’s the only way that trademarks can possibly work in the real world. Otherwise, you’d get Paramount and CBS suing thousands of hiking companies because they own the idea of "trek" referring to Star Trek.

Of course that doesn’t stop the likes of Monster suing people for use of that word where it shouldn’t belong, but at least most companies seem to understand that they shouldn’t be doing that right now.

BernardoVerda (profile) says:

Opening a Windows...

Am I the only one who can’t help but remember that time, when Microsoft tried to sue a "non-techie" Linux distribution over alleged infringement of it’s Windows trademark — and ended up settling out of court (paid the Linux distributor several million $US to change it’s name) for fear of having the court nullify it’s extremely generic Windows trademark?

Michael says:

On a related topic ...

… I’ve taken a "spin" class, and it still makes no sense to me. I know how to pedal a bike; why would I need someone to keep telling me to do it faster and harder and standing, or whatever?

I can’t believe this is a thing.

If you applied the same exercise to running on treadmills, you’d (rightfully) feel like a moron. Yet here we are.

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