Affiliated fitness giants Peloton and iFit are facing a ban on imports of their fitness equipment. The ban was announced today by the US International Trade Commission after a trade judge ruled that the two companies infringed Dish’s streaming patents. While it’s hard to have a connected gym without streaming, this isn’t Peloton’s or iFit’s first patent clash, either.
Dish and its Sling TV subsidiary originally sued Peloton, iFit and Lululemon in 2021. The four patents in question stem from Dish’s Hopper receiver and relate to how the device adjusts the bitrate of a stream in real time to improve video quality. The ITC’s complaint was filed separately at the same time, seeking a ban on Peloton and iFit’s NordicTrack equipment, as well as Lululemon’s Mirror. However, Lululemon will not be affected as it has settled with A meal in February, Reuters reports.
For its part, Peloton doesn’t seem bothered by the ban. For one thing, it has cut its fully commissioned output over the past year as part of restructuring efforts after overestimating post-pandemic demand. But more importantly, the company says it’s easy to avoid selling machines with the banned technology.
“There will be no impact on our members, current or future. We have already updated the software on new ones [products] and we will implement new streaming technology on top of the existing one [products],” says Ben Boyd, Peloton’s senior vice president of global communications. Boyd compared the process to the way companies push periodic software updates incorporating new technology on smartphones.
On the edge reached out to iFit but did not immediately hear back.
However, the ban will not take effect immediately. President Joe Biden’s administration has 60 days to review the ban. It’s possible that Biden could decide to overturn the ITC’s decision, although presidents typically don’t intervene in these matters. In this case, the Biden administration recently refused to veto a potential import ban on the Apple Watch over patent disputes related to its EKG function. After this review period ends, Peloton and iFit may choose to appeal the decision, which would further delay any ban.
Peloton’s Boyd also narrates On the edge that the company does not believe it has infringed Dish’s patents. He noted that the company is exploring its options, but declined to say whether Peloton would appeal. “Our focus is without a doubt on the member experience, and there will be absolutely no disruption to the member experience.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Peloton or iFit have been embroiled in technology patent wars. Last year, Peloton and iFit actually settled their patent beef mutually related to the request ranking functions. Peloton also lost a patent dispute against rival Echelon over its streaming technology, with the US Patent and Trademark Office ruling that Peloton’s technology was not actually patentable. Peloton has been much more contentious on this front, burying its competitors in patent filings. However, the company has since weakened that strategy after CEO Barry McCarthy took over.