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Dish Network Lawsuit: Peloton, Lululemon, NordicTrack Parent Sued

Dish Network Lawsuit: Peloton, Lululemon, NordicTrack Parent Sued

Dish alleges that the three chic fitness companies stream content in ways too similar to a revolutionary technology developed a decade ago that Dish now owns.

Dish Network and its subsidy, Sling TV, have filed lawsuits against three prominent fitness companies — Peloton, Lululemon and NordicTrack’s parent company, Icon Health & Fitness, — alleging that their streaming methods infringe on a patent owned by Dish. The company has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Trade Commission saying the same.

At issue is a method invented in the mid-2000s by Move Networks, a Utah-based company that helped revolutionize streaming video in an age of constant buffering. Move’s HTTP-based Adaptive Bitrate Streaming, or ABR, sliced the full content file into smaller units, called “streamlets,” and delivered them in accordance with the bandwidth available throughout during the stream. Instead of simply shoveling video content through whatever connection and the portal the user possessed, ABV took the users’ capabilities in mind to continually deliver the best video possible. Though little known by the general public, many in the industry considered it a breakthrough for streaming.

So how did this land a satellite TV network in court with three chic fitness brands?

It’s complicated. In 2011, Echostar, which once owned Dish Network and maintains a convoluted corporate relationship to it, purchased Move and all its patents. Dish’s subsidy, the streaming service Sling TV, utilizes ABR technology. Dish is asserting that the streaming processes of Peloton, Lululemon and NordicTrack also use “streamlets,” making them similar enough to ABR to infringe on their patent.

Dish also filed a lawsuit against Spanish-language cable network and content provider Univision, claiming its streaming was too similar to ABS. The two parties settled out of court in 2019.

Streaming classes have become an increasingly important part of the business model of makers of home fitness equipment, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has stationed many fitness buffs at home and live classes help fill the void of community once offered at gyms.

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Peloton was founded in 2012, with the goal of adding internet-enabled instruction to cycling. NordicTrack has been a brand name since the 1970s and has branched into streaming. Lululemon, best known for status symbol yoga wear, entered the home exercise sphere with its $500 million purchase of Mirror in June of 2020. An equipment-less screen, Mirror is entirely dependent on streamed and downloaded content.

Through its lawsuit, Dish Network is hoping courts and federal regulators will agree that their streaming capabilities aren’t just state-of-the-art, but possess a legally enforceable resemblance to a patented mode of video streaming.

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