Monday, November 29, 2021

Peloton is suing rivals over its on-demand classes

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Peloton isn’t too happy with its rivals. The company has filed lawsuits against Echelon and iFit, claiming each company violated patents related to Peloton’s on-demand classes, Bloomberg Law reports.

The issue at hand is that Peloton says Echelon and iFit are gaining “free rides” from its technology. In court documents, the company specifically pointed to its leaderboards and the ability to participate in live classes with other users. In its case against iFit, Peloton says that before it came along, iFit “only allowed subscribers to follow along with pre-recorded exercise classes on their machines, without any sort of community engagement.” It also takes issue with iFit’s ActivePulse and SmartAdjust features, which automatically adjust things like workout speeds based on a specific class. Peloton introduced a similar feature on its Bike Plus called auto-follow, which adjusts the bike’s resistance during a workout without requiring you to fiddle with the resistance knob.

Peloton claims that dozens of iFit and Echelon products have profited off Peloton’s technology. That includes stationary bikes, treadmills, rowers, and ellipticals sold under the NordicTrack, ProForm, and FreeMotion brands. In particular, Peloton called out the NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle Bike (which, to be fair, is pretty similar to the Bike Plus). As for Echelon, it called out the company’s connected bikes, rowers, and treadmills — all of which offer similar features but for significantly less. During the pandemic, Echelons wares were often referred to as “Peloton alternatives” by several consumer tech sites. Echelon also claimed to have developed a $500 Prime Bike for Amazon, but Amazon later denied the partnership.

As for what Peloton ultimately wants, the company is asking for a court order that would prevent iFit and Echelon from infringing on its patents, as well as compensation. If granted, that could have a massive impact on the connected fitness space. Most, if not all, modern connected fitness hardware involves some form of on-demand classes and leaderboards. Similar gadgets, like Mirror, Tonal, the SoulCycle Bike, Hydrow, and dozens of other lesser-known brands have popped up in Peloton’s wake. Meanwhile, Apple launched its own Peloton competitor Fitness Plus late last year.

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