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Aldi has recently filed a writ in the High Court, demanding an end to a competing marketing campaign and are claiming £100,000 in damages.  Conviviality Retail, the owners of the alcohol retailer, Bargain Booze, has created the campaign in question; a light-hearted take on Aldi’s recent advertising campaigns, which compares brands against Aldi’s own range.  Bargain Booze ran full page adverts in The Sun, Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News and also intend to roll out on billboards and telephone booths throughout London.

As well as pictures of products and prizes, the advert asks ‘who?’ about the Aldi own brand product, under the headline ‘Aldi Shmaldi’.  It is being seen as a sideswipe against the German retail giant, whose own marketing messaging compares its own-brand products to yours, but, within certain constraints; for more information, see our recent blog post on comparative advertising. So how far can they go?

A recent example of overstepping the mark can be seen in the case between Specsavers and ASDA, which concluded last year.  ASDA produced a series of proactive advertisements for their new eye-care offering, which included the use of logo, taglines, and colour schemes similar to those of Specsavers.  The taglines of ‘Be a real spec saver at ASDA’, and ‘Spec saving at ASDA’, were found to directly infringe upon Specsaver’s trademarks as they took ‘unfair advantage of the distinctive character or repute of trade marks’

The laws of comparative advertising permit comparisons but only to the point that you are representing the goods or services of your competitor.  If you, like Aldi, think that your rights are being infringed, consider the following:

  • Is the advert misleading?
  • Does it seek to discredit you as the competitor?
  • Is it taking unfair advantage of the reputation you have built up?
  • Does it cause confusion between your brands?
  • Are any of your trademarks being infringed?
  • Have they made unfounded claims that are not backed up with evidence?

If any of the above apply to you, then you may have a claim.  It is vital to obtain professional advice if you find yourself in these circumstances, so that you are in the best possible position to protect your brand, and your company.  We know that as brand-owners you are heavily invested in your brand and we can help you objectively consider whether your rights are being infringed.  There are a number of remedies available to pursue such as injunctions, damages or an account of profits, the removal of offending signs and the destruction of infringing goods.

For further advice, please contact Stewart Irvine, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution at Mincoffs Solicitors on 0191 281 6151 or email sirvine@mincoffs.co.uk.

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