Thatchers Cloudy Lemon Cider

Source: Thatchers

Thatchers Cloudy Lemon Cider

A trademark infringement claim by Thatchers Cider against Aldi has been dismissed in High Court, landing a blow for brands hoping for ammunition to take on the discounter.

Thatchers had accused Aldi of taking ‘unfair advantage’ of its brand reputation by intentionally mimicking elements of the design of its Cloudy Lemon Cider can, and creating a link in the minds of consumers that boosted the discounter’s sales.

The cider brand had also accused Aldi of ‘passing off’, arguing the discounter’s Taurus Cloudy Lemon Cider was “likely to misrepresent to consumers some commercial connection to Thatchers”.

The unfair advantage part of the claim in particular had been tipped by some experts as potentially significant for other brands seeking to pursue Aldi on similar grounds, if Thatchers could succeed with it.

The trademark infringement claim was dismissed in a High Court judgment handed down today, which concluded Aldi’s product had a “low degree of similarity” to Thatchers but there was “no likelihood of confusion” in the minds of consumers.

Judge Melissa Clarke found Aldi’s design had “caused a link in the mind of the average consumer” with Thatchers’ trademark, but did not take unfair advantage was not “detrimental to the repute of the trademark”.

Her deliberations included conducting a blind taste test of the two products, as had been requested by Thatchers. “I am no expert and have never tasted cloudy lemon cider before,” she said. “I found the taste of the two products to be very similar, but I accept they are different.”

She dismissed an argument from Thatchers that consumers who didn’t like the taste of the Aldi product would look negatively upon its own.

Aldi Cloudy Lemon Cider

Source: Aldi’s court papers

Aldi’s Taurus Cloudy Lemon Cider

“This is not a case, in my judgment, where the products are so significantly different that the taste of the Aldi product is liable to cast the Thatchers product sold under the trademark in a negative light,” she said.

Despite finding a low level of similarities, the judge was “satisfied that the principal dominating features of both” were their “dissimilar” brand names.

Dismissing the passing off part of the claim, she said: “There is no evidence before me that any consumers believe that the Aldi product is that of Thatchers, for example that is manufactured, or licensed, or approved by Thatchers.”

And Aldi spokesman said: “There’s nothing cloudy about this judgment. It’s clear cut. Aldi exclusive brands are just that: exclusive to Aldi while leading the market on quality and price.”

Thatchers MD Martin Thatcher said: “As a Somerset family expertly crafting cider for 120 years, we were compelled to bring this case as we were concerned that the packaging of international retailer Aldi’s product was misleading shoppers due to the strong resemblance to Thatchers Cloudy Lemon Cider.

“We’re disappointed that the judge didn’t agree with us. Despite the decision not going our way, we still believe taking this action was the right thing to do. We care about creating the perfect cider and thanks to a proud history of four generations of expert cidermakers innovating and investing, we have done just that.

“So we will continue to innovate, producing premium ciders that people want to buy and enjoy.”