M&S and Aldi face off in court over festive gin bottle fight

M&S and Aldi face off in court over festive gin bottle fight

Supermarket chain Aldi copied the look of Marks & Spencer’s celebratory gin bottles with “Instagram quality”, the British retailer argued in the High Court.

M&S has sued its German competitor for allegedly infringing on the design of its “lighted gin bottles” sold for Christmas 2020, which it says had “the wow factor that got the nation talking,” the court has been told .

The dispute follows a now-settled copyright dispute between the two retailers, in which M&S accused Aldi of copying its Colin the Caterpillar cake.

M&S’ current legal challenge, first filed last December, alleges that Aldi’s 2021 gold flake blackberry and clementine gin liqueurs are “strikingly similar” to products for which it holds a registered design.

M&S’s lawyers claim there was “simple” infringement of its registered designs, as Aldi and its own products gave “the same overall impression” to shoppers.

But Aldi, which denies infringement, claims the design features used by its competitor are “commonplace” and “well known in the industry”.

Samples of the products at the heart of the case were brought to a day-long trial at a specialized intellectual property court in London on Friday to show Judge Richard Hacon.

An illuminated Marks and Spencer gin bottle (left) next to Aldi's version

An illuminated Marks and Spencer gin bottle (left) next to Aldi’s bottle (Stobbs IP Limited/PA)

The bottles contain buttons at their base to illuminate the contents.

M&S representative Daniel Selmi said in written statements that the M&S and Aldi designs “have the same integrated light element at the bottom of the bottle, the shape and contours of the bottle and cork stopper are the same, they both have gold leaf flakes, shown hanging, and both have a winter forest silhouette graphic design”.

The lawyer added: “Obviously they give the same overall impression to the informed user.

“This is hardly surprising as Aldi wanted their product to have ‘the look and feel’ of M&S and they succeeded.”

Mr Selmi said M&S’s designs are part of his ‘Gin Globes Project’, which saw products first launched in 2019.

The inclusion of a light feature is “a strikingly novel design decision” for 2020, he said, with the idea of ​​incorporating it into the base of the bottle coming from a product developer who saw lighting shops on London’s Kensington High Street.

The products for 2020 should be “market-leading and a real first for consumers” and “designed to interact,” said Mr. Selmi.

The lawyer said M&S felt the design was “very Instagrammable” and built on the popularity of the “gin boom”.

He argued Aldi had failed to show that any of the design features were widespread or commonplace.

“The bottom line is that Aldi is in violation of this,” he concluded.

M&S is seeking a High Court injunction stopping Aldi from further alleged infringement of its protected designs, an order for Aldi to destroy or hand over anything that constitutes a possible breach of the injunction and an investigation into damages arising arising from the alleged infringement.

Aldi’s Thomas Elias said in written submissions that the company had promoted and promoted its offending products since October 2021 and sold them since early November last year.

He said M&S’s product designs “do not show… an integrated light source as is claimed,” arguing that images “show light coming from the bottom of the bottles, suggesting that the light source in the images is outside the designs themselves.” located”.

Mr Elias added that “the shape and contours of the glass bottle and cork were commonplace”.

The attorney said that by the time the designs were registered by M&S in April 2021, “both the integrated light feature and the inclusion of gold flakes were well known throughout the industry.”

He added, “They would no longer have the ‘wow’ factor that would mark both as a particularly significant design feature.”

He also said the M&S designs are “unbranded” while the Aldi bottles are “prominently branded with the words ‘The Infusionist Small Batch.’

The hearing ended on Friday with a verdict at a later date.

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