UK

Aldi loses appeal against High Court ruling over Christmas gin bottles design

A High Court judge previously found that Aldi had infringed on the design of Marks & Spencer’s Christmas gin bottles.

Marks & Spencer said their light-up gin bottle (left) was similar to Aldi’s version (right)
Marks & Spencer said their light-up gin bottle (left) was similar to Aldi’s version (right) (Stobbs IP Limited) Marks & Spencer said their light-up gin bottle (left) was similar to Aldi’s version (right) (Stobbs IP Limited/PA)

Aldi has lost an appeal against a High Court ruling which found it had copied the design of Marks & Spencer’s light-up Christmas gin bottles.

A judge ruled in January last year that the German supermarket chain had infringed the design of its rival’s product.

Judge Richard Hacon said there were “striking” similarities which would be “significant” to shoppers, stating that the differences pointed out by Aldi were “relatively minor”.

Aldi took the case to the Court of Appeal but in a ruling on Tuesday, Lord Justice Arnold, Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Lewison dismissed the appeal, unanimously agreeing that Judge Hacon was “fully entitled” to make his decision.

Lord Justice Arnold said: “He made no error of principle in comparing the overall impressions of the Aldi products with those of the registered designs, and his conclusion was one that he was fully entitled to reach.”

M&S introduced a new line of Christmas gin products in 2020, with Aldi launching its own product line the following year.

But M&S took legal action after claiming that Aldi’s gold flake clementine and blackberry gin products were “strikingly similar” to its own.

Aldi had denied the allegations but Judge Hacon found that their products were similar to that of M&S in five ways, including the “identical” bottle shape, the background “winter scene” and the light integrated into the bottles.

Following Tuesday’s ruling, an M&S spokesperson said: “We love to innovate for our customers and we’re proud of our suppliers who help us bring exciting new products to market every year.

“That’s why we take intellectual property seriously and will always defend our rights against infringement – companies that seek to copy rather than innovate harm hundreds of small suppliers who have invested in innovation to grow their business.”

An Aldi spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this judgment and are considering our position, as we still believe there is no merit in the case put forward by M&S.

“We will continue to innovate and develop exciting, high-quality products for our customers.”