Among Escape Fitness’ flagship products is the SBX range of dumbbells and barbells, which in addition to their unique visual design, are also the first dumbbells to be TUV® certified. As such, the SBX dumbbells and barbells are market leaders in terms of quality and safety. The innovative build design of the SBX range was patented by UDL. In addition, the appearance of the product is closely associated with its reputation for high quality and so the design of the SBX range was also protected through a series of design registrations.
Escape Fitness discovered a competitor selling a range of dumbbells and barbells that reproduced the unique appearance of the SBX range. Escape Fitness was concerned not only by the appropriation of its design, but also by the risk to its reputation, if the dumbbells had the same visual appearance without the same level of build quality and were being passed off as Escape's products. At the time it had not been established whether the dumbbells took advantage of the patented construction, but it was clear that they were almost identical in appearance to Escape Fitness’ SBX range.
Immediate legal action was initiated against the infringer on the basis of Escape Fitness’ UK and EU registered designs rights. It was subsequently identified that the same competitor had copied a further product in which Escape Fitness held design rights. This additional infringement was added to the proceedings, which further strengthened Escape Fitness’ position.
Given the strength of Escape Fitness’ rights, a settlement agreement was quickly reached between the parties. As part of the settlement, the infringing products were removed from sale, and Escape Fitness’ costs were met in full. The fact that the product was protected by a design registration, in addition to the patent, enabled immediate action to be taken and avoided the need to establish patent infringement.