Gillette, a behemoth in the razor market, is putting the screws to popular e-commerce upstart Dollar Shave Club in an attempt to curb its razor sales altogether. A suit filed by Gillette in federal court on Thursday alleges that Dollar Shave Club’s razors infringe on a patent it has held since 2004; Gillette has requested an injunction to bar Dollar Shave Club from selling the razors.
Dollar Shave Club made its debut in 2012, with a cheeky ad starring founder Michael Dubin that went viral. The company boasted an online subscription model that started at $1 per month and has since racked up 10 million customers and more than $90 million in capital, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to court documents, Gillette argues that Dollar Shave Club’s razors infringe on a patent for the coating on the end of razors, which is designed to protect them from wear and tear.
"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 Majoras, chief legal officer of Gillette parent company Procter & Gamble, said in a statement.
But here's the rub: Gillette launched a subscription service last year that took direct aim at Dollar Shave Club and largely replicated its business model. While online retailers like Amazon and Target have offered subscriptions to Gillette’s disposable razors for years, the brand took a long time to launch its own product and lost considerable market share to rivals like Dollar Shave Club and Harry's.
In an email to Fast Company, Dollar Shave Club declined to comment.