Dollar Shave Club is hitting back against Proctor & Gamble Co.’s allegations of patent infringement by counterclaiming that the razor giant’s patent is invalid.
Cincinnati’s Proctor & Gamble sued Venice-based subscription razor business Dollar Shave Club in December for alleged patent infringement, claiming that one of its razor coating patents was violated. The company is seeking an injunction against Dollar Shave Club’s product.
Dollar Shave Club has grown rapidly since its founding in 2012, thanks in large part to a funny commercial featuring founder and Chief Executive Michael Dubin that went viral on the Internet.
Dollar Shave Club’s counterclaim, filed Tuesday, was dismissive of Proctor & Gamble’s lawsuit.
“Dollar Shave Club does not infringe on any valid and enforceable claim of the Gillette patent,” Dollar Shave Club said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend ourselves and our three million members against these meritless claims.”
Dollar Shave Club reported revenue of $64 million in 2014, up from $19 million a year earlier, and said sales hit $153 million last year.
In contrast, sales of Proctor & Gamble’s higher-price razors, such as Gillette, have been hurt by Dollar Shave Club’s growth as well as the increased popularity of facial hair in recent years, according to analysts. The company has responded to Dollar Shave Club’s subscription model by launching a higher-price rival, Gillette Shave Club, in June.
Gillette has hundreds of patents and Dollar Shave Club has suggested that the company’s intellectual property portfolio isn’t being used for legitimate means, but rather as a barrier to new competition.
“We prefer to have the Dollar Shave Club experience speak for itself in the marketplace and we are not intimidated by Gillette’s attempts to thwart competition with litigation,” the company said.
Disney’s Maker Tab
The final price for Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of Culver City’s Maker Studios is $675 million, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Burbank media giant bought the YouTube multichannel network in 2014, paying $500 million up front and promising up to $450 million in future payments to shareholders if certain performance benchmarks were met. Ultimately, Disney only paid $175 million in bonuses, though it did not disclose any details about the benchmarks themselves.
The acquisition has marked Disney’s biggest move into online media to date. With 10 billion views every month and more than 650 million subscribers, Maker is the second-largest network on YouTube, behind BroadbandTV of Vancouver, Canada. Maker works with some 55,000 independent video creators to produce and distribute content as well as secure advertising deals.
At the time of the acquisition, Disney envisioned using Maker’s network of YouTube stars to market its in-house properties, such as the “Star Wars” and Marvel Entertainment franchises.
Maker is “first and foremost a distribution platform,” Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a 2014 earnings call. In turn, Maker saw integration with Disney as an important driver of future growth.
Despite an enthusiastic marriage between the two companies, some of the love appears to have faded over time. Several Maker executives have headed for the door in the past six months, including former President Ynon Kreiz, who left the company Jan. 11.
Some have suggested that Maker’s fast-moving video production process was mismatched with Disney’s more meticulous storytelling and brand-building methods.
“The Internet, and YouTube specifically, is about being fast, being reactive,” Sarah Ullman, digital video consultant and former Maker employee, told the Business Journal in an August interview. “And Disney is famously the inverse of that. They are very precious with their IP and slower to act.”
Online media and rewards company Prodege of El Segundo has elected two new directors to its board, Julie Schoenfeld and Maya Noeth. Schoenfeld is chief executive of Strobe Inc., a Pasadena autonomous vehicle software company. Noeth is a vice president of technology at Technology Crossover Ventures, a Palo Alto private equity firm that invested $60 million in Prodege’s Swagbucks division in 2014. … Digital content production studio Collab Studios Inc. of downtown Los Angeles has hired Eric Jacks as its chief strategy officer.
Staff Reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 232.
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