Supermarket giant M&S has defeated Aldi in court over allegations that they copied their popular festive gin. Hitting the shelves in 2019, the M&S “snow globe gin” proved to be incredibly popular, flying off the shelves in record time. In fact, rationing became necessary to control the amount each person could purchase.
So what was so special about it? Well, the gin came in a light-up bottle, adorned with Christmassy scenes that contained edible 23-carat gold leaf flakes, so when the bottle is shaken up, it creates the image of a wintery snow globe. The perfect Christmas gift for the gin lover in the family.
In 2021, Aldi released its own version of the smash-hit Christmas beverage with a similar light up bottle, and golf leaf infused gin in their coveted “Special buy” section.
The budget supermarket, known for stocking quality items for bargain prices may now have to remove the gin from sale, or pay damages/profits from its sale to M&S.
An M&S spokesman said: “We are pleased with the judgment, which demonstrates the importance of protecting our innovation. For over 138 years, customers have turned to M&S for unique, original, quality products – conceived, created and developed by us working with our trusted suppliers and produced to the highest standards.
“Like many other UK businesses, large and small, we know the true value and cost of innovation and the enormous time, passion, creativity, energy and attention to detail, that goes into designing, developing and bringing a product to market. Our customers have confidence in our products because they trust our quality and sourcing standards so we will always seek to protect our reputation for quality, innovation and value.”
Aldi are set to appeal the court’s decision.
This isn’t the first time Aldi and M&S have gone head to head over copycat allegations. In April of 2021, M&S filed a lawsuit against the German retailer on allegations of copying their “Colin the Caterpillar” birthday cake. They claimed that the Aldi version, “Cuthbert the Caterpillar” was a copy of their own cake design. The case was settled in November 2021, as the two retailers reached a “confidential agreement”. Cuthbert the Caterpillar has since returned to the Aldi Shelves.
The importance of protecting your IP
Why was this so important to M&S you may ask? The product was popular and made them money…So what’s the big deal?
There are several reasons to protect your intellectual property from copycats. Here are just a few:
Protecting your revenue – copycats divert traffic and revenue away from your business and undermine your great innovations
Protecting your reputation – While with Aldi and M&S it wasn’t a classic case of counterfeiting, many fake products pose as the real deal and trick customers into buying low quality (and potentially dangerous) fake versions of your products.
Protecting your customers – As we mentioned, fakes can be hazardous. They often do not undergo the numerous health and safety checks that your products go through, and are made of low quality, sub-par materials. This puts your customers in harms way.
How can we help?
SnapDragon is an online brand protection company dedicated to fighting fakes online. Using clients’ IP rights and backed by AI-driven technology, SnapDragon’s pioneering software Swoop monitors the world’s busiest online marketplaces for copycat goods, identifying suspect infringements for removal. Whatever the size or scale of the issue, SnapDragon’s multilingual team of brand analysts ensure that counterfeiters can be defeated, protecting innovators, businesses and customers alike. And the best part? We do it at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire a law firm – we believe great brand protection shouldn’t cost the earth.