From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Aldi and the likelihood of consumer confusion: a lesson in self-interest

Sadly this Kat, as is well known to readers of this weblog, is not the world's most talented modern linguist. Accordingly he will occasionally grapple with a foreign language text but generally in order to be baffled by it. However, there are times when actions -- legal actions at any rate -- speak louder than words and times when judicial decisions transcend all barriers to communication. One such decision is yesterday's ruling in Case T-240/13 Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. OHG v OHIM, Alifoods, SA, a ruling which this Kat has tackled in French but with a good deal of help from an electronic translation service.

Might consumers believe
that this is Aldi Cat?
A little over four years ago, Alifoods applied to register as a Community trade mark the rather attractive sign (illustrated above, right) for a wide range of tasty foods and drinks in Classes 29 and 32, plus a long list of services relating to them in Class 35. Imagine their surprise and disappointment when this application was opposed by none other than imitation and lookalike specialists Aldi, citing earlier international and Community trade mark registrations in a long list of Classes, including those on which Alifoods' application was based, for the word ALDI. The ground of opposition was that, given the similarity of the marks and the identity or similarity of the parties' respective goods and services, there was a likelihood of confusion of the relevant consumer.

OHIM's Opposition Division dismissed Aldi's objections. The Board of Appeal dismissed Aldi's appeal and yesterday the General Court affirmed their decision. The decision was a carefully reasoned one, spanning some 79 paragraphs, and appears to have addressed and then rejected every one of Aldi's objections and anxieties. Indeed, the court appears to have thought the Board of Appeal erred in considering that there was any similarity at all between the respective marks.

Merpel is delighted that Aldi is so keen to take the part of the consumer and to ensure that no likelihood of confusion exists, so that no-one should ever venture into contact with Alicante-based Alifoods' products and believe for a moment that they are in any way connected with Aldi.  She is however a little surprised that a company such as Aldi, which has shown what might be considered a cavalier disregard for the likelihood of confusion of consumers and for the cherished intellectual property rights of others, should be such a sensitive soul when even an imaginary threat to its own brand name is concerned.

The IPKat expects that Aldi will appeal, because it is cheap and easy to do so, and that the result will remain the same. He also notes that there is another pretty Alifoods logo knocking around (illustrated, right)) and wonders whether there is any connection?

Earlier Katposts on Aldi's, er, robust treatment of the goodwill of others here, here and here
More on Alifoods here.


Anonymous said...

In your various posts regarding Aldi, my favourite "play of words" has never been mentioned. I guess it never got beyond the stern letter from lawyers phase.

There used to be an ice-cream flavour called "Antarctic Monkey" in a Ben and Jerryesque mark up. I am not sure if it was an ice cream maker or the band that objected.

Paul Leonard said...

Those chaps at Aldi have necks of pure brass!

Chapman Molony said...

Good points there and they indeed reap what they sow. What you may have missed though is that the Aldi logo used in many European Countries (and the US) differs from the UK and is just white and blue with a triangle for the initial A...a bit like the Alifoods logo maybe. see

None of these shenanigans would ever happen in Waitrose!

Anonymous said...

Double standards exposed, a bit of law explained, and (best of all, sorry to say) a blog post that doesn't take all day to read. Can we have more posts like this one please?

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