Gillette sues Dollar Shave Club for alleged use of its patented technology in federal court in Delaware. Gillette alleges that its online competitor infringed on a 2004 patent that involved a “chromium-containing overcoat layer” to strengthen razor blades, according to Market Watch.
Gillette, owned by Procter and Gamble, uses the coating on its Mach 3, Venus, Fusion products and other product lines. The company “has reason to believe” that Dollar Shave Club was making changes to its products and using their patent.
The suit filed by Cincinnati-based P&G seeks an injunction to prevent the the online competitor from selling or importing any products that make use of the patented technology. The suit said the ban should include razor products marketed and sold under the names the Humble Twin, the 4X and the Executive.
Gillette is suing Dollar Shave Club for monetary damages and a court order to stop the competitor from selling infringing razors. The suit does not name Dorco, the South Korean maker of the razors.
“We take every violation of our intellectual property seriously, and when necessary, we take legal action to defend our business as we have in the past and will continue to do in the future,” P&G spokesman Damon Jones said.
Gillette, which controls around 60% of the U.S. retail market for razors, has seen its market share slip as companies such as Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s have leveraged the online space to sell their shavers and other related grooming products. In three years, Dollar Shave Club has around 8% of the $3 billion U.S. market for razors and blades, while Gillette has around 20%.
P&G tends to charge a premium for products, banking on the notion that its consumers prefer high quality. In June, P&G launched the Gillette Shave Club, apparently in an effort to lure back men who have turned to the Dollar Shave Club to save money on blades bought via the web.
The Gillette Shave Club builds on the P&G brand’s original subscription service, which allows men to sign up to regularly be mailed Gillette blades. The club includes free shipping and a loyalty program that rewards consumers for purchases.
Dollar Shave Club, which launched its subscription service in 2012, now controls 10 percent of the U.S. market for men’s razor cartridges, according to the suit. The company has more than 2 million subscribers, and its ads claim that it ships more than 44 million razor cartridges.
By comparison, razors manufactured by Gillette, which was founded in 1895, are used by more than 750 million people worldwide.
While Gillette sues Dollar Shave Club, the company holds hundreds of patents related to razors. Earlier this year, P&G filed a lawsuit against four former employees, claiming they shared trade secrets with a different competitor, ShaveLogic.