For nearly 120 years, Gillette has comfortably assumed dominance in the US shaving market. But now it's taking on an online upstart in the courts: The company filed a suit Thursday against Dollar Shave Club, trying to stop the subscription service from selling razors Gillette says infringe on a 2004 Gillette patent involving a blade with a protective "chromium-containing overcoat layer," the Wall Street Journal and Re/code report. The AP notes the "offending products" are sold under the names Humble Twin ("a great basic shaver"), 4x (a "member favorite"), and Executive ("the final frontier … like a personal assistant for your face"). "We take every violation of our intellectual property seriously, and when necessary, we take legal action to defend our business," Damon Jones, a rep for parent company Procter & Gamble, tells the Journal.
With an irreverent marketing campaign—including a YouTube video with founder Michael Dubin proclaiming, "Our blades are f---ing great"—Dollar Shave Club has scraped away a significant portion of the $3 billion US razor and blade market, scooping up 8% in just three years and claiming to overtake Schick as the No. 2 razor cartridge brand. Gillette appears to be stepping up its own game to compete, debuting the Gillette Shave Club and recruiting celebs like Giants QB Eli Manning to help hawk its products, Re/code notes. Interestingly, the lawsuit doesn't mention Dorco, the South Korean manufacturer that produces the blades used in Dollar Shave Club products. Jones tells Re/code that "[Dollar Shave Club is] actually selling the product and bringing it to market; that's why they are named in the suit." (A New York column ripped into a new Gillette razor last year.)