Marks & Spencer and Aldi are once again going into battle, this time for Aldi’s alleged infringement of the design of M&S’ ‘Light Up Gin’.
M&S has argued that the designs of Aldi’s gold flake “snow globe” gin liqueurs are ‘strikingly similar’ to its own. Court papers include registered design images of M&S’ version and a list of features the retailer says are protected include the shape of the bottle, an integrated light feature, gold leaf flakes and a winter forest graphic. To support its claim, it has also provided a number examples of comparisons made in the press between the two products.
M&S is taking a forthright approach to protecting its IP this year, against Aldi in particular. We have seen a number of clients choose to challenge Aldi’s aggressive approach to taking inspiration from others, and M&S is doing the same. The huge press interest in the earlier dispute between M&S and Aldi about chocolate cakes called Colin and Cuthbert has not deterred M&S from taking action again.
This case is about design rights, a commonly forgotten but very effective IP right in protection against copycats. Most cases against Aldi are settled before trial, but with some notable exceptions, with Aldi having won and lost some high-profile disputes in recent years. M&S will be hoping that its strong action against Aldi will discourage further copycat products and allow M&S to retain distinctiveness and return on its investment in new product development.
Meanwhile, Aldi will perhaps be hoping that another dispute with M&S will raise its profile with its target market yet further. It may take a while to declare a true winner in this one.
About the author(s)
John Coldham is UK Head of Brands and Designs, and co-heads the global practice. The Team is MIP Designs Firm of the Year 2021, having also won the award in 2019 and 2020. It is the first firm ever to win the award three years in a row.