Creating cheap ‘knock-off’ products is not a new concept as not all consumers can afford luxury items. It is no surprise that there is a large market for products that are inspired by luxury goods but are sold at affordable prices. Aldi, a popular no-frills supermarket chain, has a reputation for creating look-alike goods. However, they have also gotten into legal trouble for their knock-off products. This article will explore what you should keep in mind while branding your products so that you do not get in trouble for infringing the trade mark rights of another business.
Aldi uses certain marketing methods to ensure that their no-frills goods do not infringe upon the trade marks of other brands. As a consumer, it is easy to guess which brands have inspired some of their products. Aldi even uses the tagline ‘like brands, only cheaper’.
Here are some known brands and their comparable Aldi product:
|Brand Name Product||Aldi Comparable Product|
|Sultana Bran||Bran & Sultanas|
|Mars Bar||Titan Bar (similar look packaging)|
|Head and Shoulders||Head Strong|
Below, we explore two cases where Aldi has been sued due to the sale of their lookalike products. In both cases, Aldi was found to not be infringing the IP rights of the branded products.
Cheezy Twists Case
Aldi sells a cheese flavoured snack under the brand name Cheezy Twists. However, Cheezy Twists are very similar to the well-known snack Twisties, which is owned by Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay began court proceedings against Aldi for the use of the name Cheezy Twists for the sale of a product that is almost identical to Twisties.
However, the court found that Aldi was not infringing Frito-Lay’s trade mark. This is because the Cheezy Twists mark was not deceptively similar to the Twisties mark. Essentially, this means that the courts did not believe that consumers would likely be confused about the origin of each of the products.
Aldi sells a Moroccan argan oil hair product that is similar to a product produced and sold by Moroccanoil Ltd. The Moroccanoil bottle and product packaging is recognisable to many consumers and has turquoise and orange packaging. Responding to Aldi’s similar packaging, the Moroccanoil brand took Aldi to court. Here, they claimed that Aldi had infringed their trade mark rights and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
Morrocanoil Ltd lost their case both in the Federal court and on appeal. Here, the judges commented that there was no real tangible danger that a consumer would mistake Aldi’s product for a luxury offering like that which Morrocanoil sells.
The Legal Risks That Aldi Faces
By creating affordable products that are inspired by other brands, Aldi needs to avoid:
- deceiving its customers with product names that are similar or identical to the brand name product;
- misleading its customers by selling a comparable product; and
- having ambiguity in their packaging regarding any association between the Aldi product and the brand named product.
When branding your products, you should observe these rules to avoid any potential court actions. To avoid infringing the trade mark rights of others and prevent committing misleading and deceptive conduct, you should:
- ensure that your brand name is sufficiently different from any comparable products;
- compare the brands side by side to ensure that there is no confusion about whether the products are likely to deceive consumers;
- follow in Aldi’s footsteps and outline ten key points of difference between your products and comparable brands;
- create a different price point for your inspired goods in comparison to similar products.
Legal Questions to Ask Yourself
When creating products that you think might be slightly too similar to ones that already exist, you should ask yourself the following legal questions:
|Trade Mark Infringement||Is my product deceptively similar or substantially identical to another product?|
|Copyright Infringement||Have I used an original aspect of other brand’s packaging on my products?|
|Misleading and Deceptive Conduct||Would an ordinary or reasonable consumer be confused as to the origin of my goods?|
|Passing Off||Does my product misrepresent a trade connection to consumers?|
If you answered yes to any of the above, you should change the branding of your product to ensure that it does not infringe upon the IP rights of another business.
Aldi’s business practices should how important it is to ensure that you are not infringing on the trade mark rights of others. When creating your own low-cost competitive product, you should:
- ensure that your brand name is not deceptively similar to a known brand;
- create visual aspects on your packaging that illustrates that your product is not connected or associated with the known brand or product; and
- think about the key differences between your product and the known brand.
If you have any questions about ensuring that your trade mark is not too similar to another business’ contact LegalVision’s trade mark lawyers or fill out the form on this page.
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