Everything You Need to Know About the RTIC vs YETI Lawsuit

If you didn’t already hear about the RTIC vs YETI lawsuit, you likely knew that there was going to be one. They honestly look so alike, you have to actually get pretty close up to see the differences. Wonder how the whole thing went down, and what it means for consumers? We’ve dissected the lawsuit and determined what it’s going to mean for you, depending on what brand you decide to go with.

YETI Coolers

YETI was founded back in 2006 by two brothers, Roy and Ryan Seiders. The brothers from Austin, Texas found an opportunity to improve on the traditional cooler. Their unique (at the time) roto-molded design quickly became very popular. Their coolers had a quality not before seen, blowing your old Coleman or Igloo out of the water. But, YETIs also came with a pretty steep price tag, opening the door for competitors and copycats. Enter RTIC coolers…

RTIC Coolers

The founders of RTIC coolers saw an opportunity in the booming roto-molded cooler industry and figured they would get in on the action. RTIC was also founded in 2015 by two brothers funnily enough, John and Jim Jacobsen down the road in Cypress, Texas. They took YETIs popular roto-molded design, as well as slicing off a substantial chunk of the price tag to try and make their money from consumers looking for a great cooler but also looking to save a some money. They even used the slogan, “Like a YETI but half the price.” But, it seems like RTIC should have changed up the design to make it a little more unique as YETI promptly filed a lawsuit in the wake of RTICs quick rise to success alongside YETI.

The Lawsuit

In the wake of RTICs success, YETI launched patent, trade dress and trademark infringement lawsuits. We can certainly see why, considering the two products extreme similarity.. but what’s interesting, is that YETI wasn’t actually the first cooler of its kind. In fact, Engel coolers were the first roto-molded cooler on the market in 2005, a full year before YETI sold their first one. However, YETI found a way to market their product a little bit better, and solved a few problems as well. Mainly that they found a solution to latches in their rubber latch system, and removing any opportunity for rust by removing all metal components.

They also came at RTIC for trade dress – which is essentially a legal term that refers to the physical characteristics of a product and its packaging. Basically, if you swapped the logos on two products, and you can’t tell them apart, then you’ve maybe got a trade dress suit. As you can see, YETIs and RTICs are almost impossible to tell apart. At least ORCAs have a few distinct features you can distinguish.

The Settlement

After several months of back and forth, YETI and RTIC came to a (supposedly) amicable settlement. The details of the settlement weren’t made public, but it seems that neither side wanted to keep paying for legal fees and settlement was the best option. RTIC released a statement saying they wanted to conclude the suit, “for the purpose of avoiding the additional costs and uncertainty of continued litigation.” YETI seems appeased as they received some financial compensation from RTIC, and RTIC was also required to redesign their product line.

What it Means For You

If you were looking to buy either an RTIC or a YETI then you may be wondering what this means for you. Well for one, RTICs coolers have been shown to have comparable performance to YETIs. But, now that they have been required to redesign their hard shelled roto-molded models, we’re not sure how they will stack up against YETIs. Likely most changes will be superficial and they will still have comparable ice retention, but you never know. YETIs still come with the same steep price tag, but they do make a quality product even if you do pay a premium for the brand.