Gillette sues Dollar Shave Club, alleges patent infringement

Dollar Shave Club has positioned itself as the anti-Gillette, not giving people tech they don't need

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 17, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4225

Razor subscription service Dollar Shave Club has become known for its really funny marketing videos, starring its founder and CEO Michael Dubin, which poke fun at an out of date industry. It's been a savvy marketing tool, one that has helped the company differentiate itself from the traditional players in the space. 

No everyone is laughing, though. Especially not Gillette, the razor company owned by Proctor & Gamble, which announced on Thursday that it is suing Dollar Shave Club for patent infringement.

A copy of the complaint, supplied to VatorNews via Kara Buckley, Global Grooming Communications Leader at P&G, confirms that the suit is over this patent, which relates to the company's blade coatings.

Filed in 2004, the patent is for, "A razor blade including a substrate with a cutting edge defined by a sharpened tip and adjacent facets, a layer of hard coating on the cutting edge, an overcoat layer of a chromium containing material on the layer of hard carbon coating, and an outer layer of polytetrafluoroethylene coating over the overcoat layer."

The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction to prevent the Defendant from selling any products infringing Gillette’s patented technology. The amount that Gillette is seeking, "would be determined at the discretion of the court," Buckley said. 

We have long invested heavily in innovation, and our talented scientists have dedicated their careers to delivering the best shaving experience possible for men and women around the world,” Deborah P. Majoras, chief legal officer of P&G, said in a statement.

Our patents help protect the many technical advancements we’ve made through the years – and when it becomes necessary, we take action to protect these important assets.”

A spokesperson for Dollar Shave Club declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

It's not hard to see why Gillette would not like Dollar Shave Club. This is a company that has positioned itself as a throwback, one that is not trying to revolutionize the razor, but simplifying it by not trying to upsell the customer on things that they don't need. In fact, Dubin targeted Gillette, and others of its ilk, at our annual Splash LA event in October.

"Our story is, the big boys are serving you up superfluous technological advancements that don't really measure up, so to speak," Dubin said, specifically referencing the Gillette's FlexBall, which he said was, basically, something that nobody actually needs.

"They claim to shave 13 microns closer than the previous version of Gillette," he said. "How long does it take for 13 microns to grow? Maybe a half an hour? So you decide is that's technology you need or not," he said, 

Other "advancements" in razor technology that he highlighted have included vibrating handles and LED guide-lights.

"These are what Gillete and Schick have up-selling the customer on and we make fun of it in the video, saying your grandfather had a great shave when he only had one blade, but the fact is that you don't need a revolutionized razor to get the job done. And so that go to market tone had really made us the people's hero of the men's grooming category, because we finally called bullshit on what the big boys are doing to take advantage of the customer."

Founded in 2012, the Los Angeles-based Dollar Shave Club offers products beyond just selling razors; it also sells shave butter, after shave moisturizer, a repair serum for cuts and burns, as well as toilet wipes, hair cream, hair paste, hair fiber, hair clay and hair gel.  

The company now has more than two million subscribers. It now owns over 13.3% of the U.S. cartridge market by volume, and is shipping upwards of 70 million cartridges per year. It is seeing its revenue rise year to year. In 2013, it generated $19 million, which jumped to $64 million in 2014 and is projected to more than double again to $140 million this year.

Dollar Shave Club has raised $163.5 million, and has been valued at $615 million. 

(Image source: dollarshaveclub.com)

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Dollar Shave Club
Description: Name of the company
Bio: Founder and CEO ­ Dollar Shave Club Michael Dubin is a passionate, creative executive & trailblazing brand­builder.

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