M&S and Aldi battle it out in court over ‘copycat’ festive gin bottle design

M&S and Aldi are battling it out in court over claims – first bought last December – that the discount supermarket infringed on the intellectual property of M&S’ festive gold flake gin bottle design.

The high street giant took its case to the High Court last week, arguing that the German discounter copied the look of its “instagrammable” gin bottles, which feature a transparent winter forest design, gold flakes in the gin and a light in the base of the bottle.

Lawyers for M&S claim there was a “straightforward” infringement of its registered designs, with Aldi and its own products producing “the same overall impression” on shoppers.

Part of an intellectual property battle which was first addressed last December, M&S alleges that Aldi’s 2021 gold flake blackberry and clementine gin liqueurs are “strikingly similar” to products for which it holds a registered patent.

However, Aldi denies all infringement, arguing that the design features used by its rival were “widely known across the sector”.

The clash comes in the wake of a now settled copyright dispute between the two retailers earlier this year, which saw M&S accuse Aldi of copying its Colin the Caterpillar cake.

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The discount supermarket also pointed out some key differences in the branding of its product, such as the woodland silhouette coming in two colours.

Aldi claims that, although its designer had “considerable design freedom” on which images could be placed on the bottle, they were restricted when it came to the gold flakes, the location of a light fitting and the printable area of the bottle.

“These bottles spend most of their life on the shelf undisturbed and unlit. It is an important factor of these product designs that it is not simply the lights you’re going to interact with, as they will be sitting on your shelf for weeks at a time over Christmas,” Aldi’s lawyer, Thomas Elias said.

Lawyer for M&S, Daniel Selmi said: “Andrew Maxwell [buying director at Aldi] made the point of saying there is limited options available, but there were a huge variety of bottle shapes.”

He added: “That is a design choice. If you can commission lots of different shapes and you choose not to, you choose one like ours. You can include white flakes, silver flakes, large gold flakes, small bits of gold. Of course, most bottles do not have anything. It is all a design choice.”



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