You might think that “spinning” and “spin,” used to describe stationary bike-based aerobic classes led by an instructor, are generic terms that anyone can use, but they’re not. Both words have been trademarked since the late 90s, and exercise giant Peloton wants this to change.
Peloton is well known for its online spinning classes and related equipment, which have seen their popularity surge during the pandemic as gyms close and people opt for at-home fitness regimes. But the company can’t actually use the terms “spinning” or “spin” as they are copyrighted by California firm Mad Dogg.
Now, Bloomberg reports that Peloton has filed petitions to cancel the trademarks, arguing that spinning and spin are “part of the fitness lexicon” and “generic terms to describe a type of exercise bike and associated in-studio class.”
Mad Dogg previously told Peloton to remove a video from its YouTube channel that referenced the word “spin,” writes The Verge.
Peloton’s filing with the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board notes that Mad Dogg has threatened litigation for trademark infringement against “countless fitness industry participants.”
“Even five minutes of simple Google searching reveal that everyone in the world — other than Mad Dogg — understands that ‘spin’ and ‘spinning’ are generic terms to describe a type of exercise bike and associated in-studio class,” reads Peloton’s petition.
Bloomberg notes that “escalator” and “murphy beds” started out as trademarks but lost their protection from overuse, known as “genericide.” In contrast, some trademarks that turn into verbs, such as Google and Zoom, remain associated with the companies that own them.
Mad Dogg has an entire page on its website dedicated to how the terms should be used, noting that only authorized dealers can use them.
Peloton is already facing an infringement lawsuit from Mad Dogg over patents for programmed exercise bikes. While that suit is unrelated to the spinning/spin trademarks, Bloomberg believes Peloton’s actions are a “retaliatory effort.”