Lidl v Tesco

Lidl claims the Tesco Clubcard Prices logo is too similar to its own

Lidl has accused Tesco of deceiving customers by deliberately copying its branding, in a High Court battle over the use of a yellow circle logo.

The discounter made the allegation as a civil trial kicked off on Tuesday in a dispute centring on Tesco’s Clubcard Prices logo, which Lidl wants the supermarket banned from using, claiming it is too similar to its own.

It is the latest instalment in a battle that began last year with Lidl launching a passing off lawsuit on claims Tesco was trying to “ride on [its] coat-tails”.

Lidl’s barrister Benet Brandreth KC also highlighted the red circle logo for Tesco’s Aldi Price Match campaign, along with a red circle logo used in Lidl advertising with the slogan ‘Always Lidl on price’.

He said the iconography used by Tesco was “strikingly similar” to Lidl’s in both cases, arguing “the consequence of the similarities is that a substantial number of consumers are being deceived”.

He added: “Lidl say that this deception is not accidental. That Tesco deliberately copied Lidl’s branding to achieve precisely the transfer of reputation for good value that is occurring. If Lidl are right in that then it would underline the finding of infringement and passing off.”

In Lidl’s written skeleton argument, he said Tesco was using its logos “as part of a ‘price war’ against ‘the discounters’ Lidl and Aldi together”, claiming “the similarity is underscored” by such use.

Tesco’s barrister Hugo Cuddigan KC argued there was “no significant similarity” between the logos. He said Tesco rejected the accusation it sought to engender a link with Lidl, and that feedback on the Clubcard Prices scheme had indicated only a “very modest” association.

Cuddigan said the design of the Clubcard Prices promotion was at all times intended to increase customer loyalty and it was never a Lidl price-match.

Cuddigan also argued Lidl would have to prove damage. “That means that the customers who have been misled would otherwise have gone to Lidl to purchase the goods in issue, or that the deception causes them to take a materially disadvantageous view of Lidl,” he said in Tesco’s written skeleton argument. “As above, we are not aware of any evidence that this has happened.”

It comes after Tesco won an appeal in November allowing it to argue at trial that Lidl trademarked a wordless version of its yellow circle logo in ‘bad faith’. It is part of a counterclaim in which Tesco seeks to cancel some of Lidl’s trademarks, arguing they were registered as a “legal weapon”.

The trial continues.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “Clubcard Prices helps us to reward our most loyal customers with exclusive deals, and is an important part of our commitment to keeping the weekly shop as affordable as possible.

“We cannot comment on an ongoing trial, but we continue to strongly defend our position on the basis that our Clubcard Prices logo does not infringe any of Lidl’s intellectual property rights, and our focus remains on providing great value for our customers.”

A Lidl spokeswoman said: “The Lidl logo is synonymous with value and the significant savings that households can make when shopping at Lidl. This has been reinforced time and again through independent analysis, with the latest price comparison by Which? Magazine highlighting that a basket of 45 products was almost £10 more expensive at Tesco than at Lidl.

“So it’s simply not fair for Tesco to deceive customers by using a logo very similar to the Lidl logo, particularly at a time when every penny counts. We will strongly defend our brand and our customers’ right not to be misled on prices.”

It comes a week after Aldi was defeated in High Court by M&S in a battle over similarities between festive gin ranges.