One brand expert is hoping the end of supermarket fakes is on the horizon following a court ruling by a Swiss court over fake Lidl chocolate rabbits.
The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has ruled that Lidl rabbits made of chocolate and wrapped in aluminum foil, whether “golden or of another color”, are very similar to the Lindt rabbit.
The Swiss branches of the chain, Lidl Schweiz and Lidl Schweiz DL, banned the sale of similar rabbits and ordered the destruction of any stock still in stock.
Some brand experts now hope the case will lead to stricter rules in the UK to prevent supermarkets from creating their own versions of branded products.
Aldi and Lidl are notorious for selling their cheap knockoffs of branded goods in their stores, and even leading supermarkets are known for taking advantage of other popular products such as M&S’ Colin the Caterpillar cake.
The Swiss ruling comes after a hotly contested caterpillar cake lawsuit between Marks, Spencer and Aldi was settled earlier this year in a secret deal.
Branding expert Jessica Andrews said the ruling represented an opportunity for the UK to “focus that this is an unacceptable practice” and end counterfeit supermarket retail operations, encouraging them to “develop their own style” instead.
Liddell’s rabbit (left) was found by the court to be very similar to Lindt’s design
Switzerland’s highest court found that the shape of rabbits was “associated with a very large part of the public with Lindt”
Details of the ‘secret’ deal have not been revealed, but it is understood that Cuthbert (pictured) will never again appear exactly the same.
She told MailOnline: “In the UK we have a very different copyright law than the one in the US.
Absolutely everything US photo-based must be legally registered.
In the UK we don’t have to do that but we have a really bad trend with growing internet companies coming in globally and stealing designer intellectual property.
Hopefully this case will highlight that this is not an acceptable practice.
“Brands spend a lot of time getting their image and feel right.”
She added, “It’s a very difficult situation to navigate. You have the copycat influencer who wants to emulate the brand that people love at a cost they can afford.”
Brands will still find a way to change something to make it their own, but at the same time, I think it’s really important to develop your own style.
So maybe it will allow people to have the confidence to vote with their money for what they like.
There is a reason that artisanal products are a little more expensive and sometimes the quality and cost must be acknowledged.
“As a society, everything is instant, we want it now, but sometimes it’s actually good to look forward to something.”
Lindt & Sprungli filed a lawsuit in 2018, claiming that Lidl rabbits have a very similar look and feel and could be confused with their flagship Easter product.
But the commercial court of the Swiss province of Aargau, west of Zurich, rejected Lindt’s lawsuit in 2021.
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However, Switzerland’s Supreme Court overturned the decision, finding that Lidl rabbits posed “a risk of confusion even if the two products represented certain differences”.
“Given the resulting overall impression, Liddell rabbits elicit clear associations with the Lindt form,” the federal court said.
“In the public mind, they are indistinguishable.”
Lindt provided consumer surveys showing that her rabbit had achieved a level of general public awareness.
The Federal Supreme Court decided that “the forms protected by Lindt & Sprungli under trademark law may be considered to be associated with a very large portion of the public with Lindt & Sprungli”.
In contact with AFP, Liddell said he could not provide “any information regarding legal proceedings that are still ongoing.”
It comes after a hotly contested court case between Marks, Spencer and Aldi was settled earlier this year in a confidential deal.
The British retailer has accused the German discount company of copying the design of its famous Colin the Caterpillar car for rival Cuthbert.
Lawyers were brought in in the intellectual property lawsuit, which was brought to the Supreme Court last year.
Both supermarkets confirmed in February that an agreement had been reached to resolve the conflict.
Details of the “secret” deal have not been revealed, but it is understood that Cuthbert will never appear again in exactly the same form.
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