In the recent issue of Ownership we looked at “the battle of the caterpillars” with M&S’ claim against Aldi for allegedly infringing various of its trade marks. Aldi fought back on social media, poking fun at M&S and gaining a lot of attention for the ‘plight of Cuthbert’ even going as far as showing Cuthbert in chains in their Christmas advert.
Not wanting to miss out on the festive fun, M&S brought a further claim against Aldi. This time alleging infringement of a design that the retailer had registered for its light-up, snow globe, gin bottle. Whilst similar bottles have been available for some time M&S allege that Aldi’s blackberry and clementine gin liqueur is “strikingly similar” to its registered design and “do not produce on the informed user a different overall impression to the [M&S] designs”.
In recent days it has been reported that Cuthbert has been freed and M&S and Aldi have settled their caterpillar dispute. We don’t yet (and probably never will) know the terms of the settlement but Aldi are understood to be releasing a new version of their Cuthbert cake in the near future.
Lookalike cases on the rise
We are seeing an increasing number of cases involving such lookalike products and more creative protection sought, and claims brought, by retailers. In particular using the full sphere of IP rights including design registrations, trade mark registrations for packaging (and the like) as well as the more traditional trade mark protection. This shows that, more than ever, it is important for all businesses, but in particular retailers, to consider clearance searches before launching new products.
Indeed, whilst M&S have frequently been the aggrieved party in such disputes, it has recently been reported that they are on the receiving end of a claim by French clothing brand Lacoste. Lacoste are famous for their crocodile logo and have, reportedly, brought a claim against M&S for infringement of their various trade marks as a result of M&S using depictions of crocodiles on various clothing and bedding.
We await, with interest, the outcome of the two remaining claims (and how Cuthbert looks when he is released). If you have any questions about copycat issues, or any of the other articles in Ownership, the please contact our expert intellectual property team for a ‘snappy’ response!
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