Harry's, a newly-launched company that raised at least $2.5 million for a boutique razor delivery service successfully got the Gillette Company to dismiss a lawsuit for patent infringement (below) filed earlier this month.
According to a court document filed on May 17th, Gillette "voluntarily dismisses this action without prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)." Gillette had demanded a jury trial as well as a preliminary and permanent injunction for selling Harry's Blades and a company like that doesn't scare easy, which makes you wonder if there was a settlement involved.
A lawyer we spoke to said plaintiffs dimiss suits for various reasons, like a change in venue, and "without prejudice" means Gillette can file again whenever they chose, whereas in a settlement, suits are typically dismissed "with prejudice."
"No comment," was all we could from Gillette's lawyer. A representative for Harry's declined to comment as well.
Harry's, which was launched back in March, seems to fit George Packer's definition of the "hottest" tech startups to a tee (i.e. "solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand, because that's who thinks them up.")
It all started in October 2011, when Katz-Mayfield had a lousy experience while running out to pick up a razor at the drugstore.
Oh no, bro!
The company raised funding from Josh Kushner's investment firm Thrive Capital (a Warby Parker investor), as well as Red Swan, a micro-VC fund started by Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn and fellow Warby Parker investor, to "bring a little of that Warby Parker magic to shaving." In other words, sell a cheaper product than the dominant players (Schick and Gillette) online, but market it out the wazoo. Katz-Mayfield says of the razors, which evoke mid-century gravitas with names like "the Winston" and "the Truman":
"We took aesthetic inspiration from older ballpoint pens and old knives that have unique handles."
The vintage aspirations practically intone: This, gentleman, is no frat house Dollar Shave Club (the razor subscription services startup that raised more than $10.8 million). There's even a requisite world-changing element! According to Harry's website:
"For every pack of Harry’s blades that you buy, we donate one blade (or an equivalent dollar value) to an organization that supports our mission of helping people to look and feel great."
But the company's claim to a proprietary blade disrupted beast when the Gillette Company sued both Harry's and Feintechnik, the German company that makes it razor blades for infringement of this patent.
However, the suit may be another thing Harry's has in common with Warby Parker. In 2010, Warby was sued by a competitor called Salt Optics, in that case for copyright infringement and unfair competition, among other charges. The judge dismissed the copyright infringement charges, but there may have been a settlement there as well:
Salt Optics filed a joint stipulation to dismiss the case, thus any potential agreement related to other charges in the case, including trade dress infringement, unfair competition, and common law misappropriation is not publicly available.
All's well that ends well in Startupland, we suppose.