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What does Gillette suing Dollar Shave Club mean for other subscription services?

Gillette is taking Dollar Shave Club to court over potential patent infringements – does this have a broader implication for the startup world?

Old school vs. new school?

Dollar Shave Club’s razors may be “f—ing great,” but Gillette says that that’s because the subscription service has stolen their patented technology.

Gillette, the men’s personal care products division of Procter & Gamble, sells about 70 percent of men’s shaving razors worldwide. The company was founded in 1901, when King C. Gillette invented the first safety razor.

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Since then, the company says, it has made hundreds of innovations to improve shaving technology, and runs research centers in Boston and Reading, UK, to continue these improvements.

And now, they’re suing the subscription service

Now the company is suing Dollar Shave Club for allegedly stealing some of their technology. In a suit filed in the federal court in Delaware, Gillette is suing Dollar Shave Club for patent violations. Gillette claims that Dollar Shave Club’s razors use a special coating to keep the blades sharp that it patented in 2004.

Dollar Shave Club, launched in 2012, is a subscription service that sells razor cartridges and other accessories for as little as one dollar per month, presumably because men need fresh razors regularly and would rather get them in the mail than go shopping for them. Dollar Shave Club is responsible for about 10 percent of razor sales to men in the United States. The company was launched with a video, starring CEO Michael Dubin, which famously claims “our blades are f—ing great.” The video has 21 million views on YouTube.

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“Stop forever, please.” -Gillette, kind of

Gillette would like the court to order Dollar Shave Club to cease razor sales. According to Gillette spokesperson Kara Buckley, “We invest significantly in developing the best shaving technology in the world – so we don’t take it lightly when competitors illegally use our patented technology. The lawsuit seeks to stop this violation of our intellectual property immediately.”

Gillette, however, is also borrowing an idea from Dollar Shave Club and has created its own “Gillette Shave Club” subscription service.

Dollar Shave Club has yet to publicly comment on the suit.

As for other subscription services…

Does this mean doom for other subscription services? Only if there appears to be any impropriety regarding patents. The bottom line is that as old school seeks to defend their turf against new school startups, lawyers are going to get rich.

#RazorWars

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Paul

    January 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Dollar Shave Club doesn’t even make their own razors. They have a company named Dorco manufacture them. So why isn’t Gillette suing Dorco?

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