Gillette Sues Dollar Shave Club For Using Patented Technology Without Permission

Dollar Shave Club is being sued by Procter & Gamble subsidiary Gillette. The civil lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware, alleges the subscription razor blade service used Gillette’s patented technology without permission.

Founded in 2011, Dollar Shave Club is a unique subscription service which provides users with fresh razor blades each month.

As stated on the company website, subscribers choose from three different razors — which all use disposable blade cartridges. The Humble Twin cartridges, which have one blade, are available for $3 per month, including shipping and handling fees. The service also offers the four-blade 4X cartridges for $6 per month, and 6-blade Executive cartridges for $9 per month.

In addition to razors and blade cartridges, the company also sells Dr. Carver’s shave butter and lather, Boogie’s hair gel and hair clay, and One Wipe Charlies’ restroom wipes. Although the Dollar Shave Club has seen great success in the last four years, Procter & Gamble subsidiary Gillette claims that success was based on their patented technology.

In 2004, Gillette was issued a United States patent for a product described as “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 Wall Street Journal reports the lawsuit specifically mentions the 2004 patent — which was later used to design the company’s Fusion, Mach 3, and Venus razor blades. According to the lawsuit, Dollar Shave Club used the patented technology to make the razors sold through its subscription service, all without permission.

In addition to monetary damages, Gillette requested an injunction to prevent the subscription service from selling any more 4X, Executive, and Humble Twin razors or blades.

In January, Procter & Gamble subsidiary Gillette filed a similar lawsuit against four former employees who went to work for Shavelogic in 2014.

Reuters reports John Griffin, Douglas Kohring, Craig Provost, and William Tucker unlawfully shared confidential information and trade secrets with their new employer. Procter & Gamble spokesperson Kara Buckley said the employees were working on several technologies, including a magnetic cartridge attachment system and elastomeric pivots, while working for Gillette.

However, when they terminated their employment, they took their ongoing research to Shavelogic. As stated in the lawsuit, Shavelogic was later issued patents for the products — which were developed while Griffin, Kohring, Provost, and Tucker were working for Gillette.

According to reports, Shavelogic, which is headquartered in Dallas, is accused of regularly hiring former Gillette employees in an effort to obtain confidential information and trade secrets.

In 1904, King C. Gillette was issued a patent for the world’s first safety razor. The smaller, and safer, blades were an instant hit — as they did not need to be sharpened. They were also popular because they were easier to control than traditional straight edge razors.

Over the next century, the company stuck to their original motto: “There is a better way to shave and we will find it.” With research and development centers in Boston, Massachusetts, and Reading, United Kingdom, Gillette is proud to employ “unique and diverse professionals drive with passion and creativity.”

Although Gillette remains the frontrunner in retail razor sales, the company is being threatened by an increase in internet and subscription services. In an attempt to remain competitive, the company recently introduced their own subscription service.

Much like Dollar Shave Club, Procter & Gamble subsidiary Gillette offers three different plans. However, the razor cartridges are mailed out every two to three months as opposed to every month.

Gillette’s subscription service also assumes each cartridge will last an entire month, whereas Dollar Shave Club provides four cartridges each month.

According to Gillette’s Shave Club website, their Mach3 Turbo Classic Plan costs approximately $3.50 per cartridge, the Fusion Advanced Plan costs approximately $4.50 per cartridge, and the Fusion ProGlide Ultimate Plan costs approximately $4.90 per cartridge.

Dollar Shave Club has not responded to Procter & Gamble subsidiary Gillette’s lawsuit at this time, and it is unknown when the first court date will be scheduled.

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