Pricing and range simplicity are key reasons discounters have been able to steal market share from our established UK multiples. But what about familiarity? Anyone for a bit of Norpak? Or Danpak? It’s copycat brands, of course. Are they here to stay, or will the courts send them packing?

If the Apple-Samsung battle is anything to go by, the majority are here to stay. “Boy have we patented it!” proclaimed Steve Jobs at the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. But, two years later, Samsung was launching its new Galaxy. The same thing happened with tablets, only faster: Apple’s iPad was launched in April 2010; Samsung’s Galaxy Tab barely six months later.

In 2011, Apple and Samsung went to court: lots of courts, in fact. But, for all the time and expense, Apple achieved relatively little by way of financial damages or product restraint. The case continues, as they say. For all its innovative talk, Apple hadn’t invented the tablet computer. Or the idea of having a rectangular-shaped device you can use to communicate with third parties (aka the phone).

So what are we to make of copycat brands in UK supermarkets? Aldi certainly looks like the Samsung of the story. But it isn’t alone: a 2013 report from Which? identified other copycat products from Asda, Boots, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Superdrug and Tesco. And what are we really to make of the fact that 30% of the respondents to Which? felt misled by the product likeness? That 30% felt misled, or that 70% didn’t?

If the Apple/Samsung saga is any guide, brand owners will have their work cut out. A temporary injunction here (as the Saucy Fish Co recently achieved vis à vis Aldi); a line or two removed from sale there. Is it really the best use of their time and our money (someone’s got to pay)? How about lower prices instead? Or focusing on the genuine points of product differentiation? Or simplifying the product offering: one toothpaste manufacturer has 39 types of toothpaste listed on its website just now; all the tea at Ocado is not far short of 500 lines.

The US Navy has a saying for this: Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

Stuart Parkinson is founder of The Top Note