Lidl and Tesco in High Court battle over yellow circle

Lidl and Tesco are facing off in a High Court battle over a yellow circle logo.

The two supermarkets are at loggerheads over claims by Lidl that Tesco infringed its copyright by using a yellow circle to promote its clubcard prices. 

Tesco has filed a counterclaim against Lidl in the dispute which started in April last year. 

In court documents, Lidl has accused Tesco of “seeking deliberately to ride on the coattails of Lidl’s reputation as a discounter supermarket known for the provision of value”. The discounter said that Tesco’s use of the logo suggests Tesco’s products could be purchased for the same or lower prices than at Lidl.

Lidl has used a yellow circle in its logo since around 1987, while Tesco introduced a yellow circle into its clubcard marketing in 2020.

Lidl owns a trademark for a yellow circle with no text in it – the “wordless mark” as it is referred to in the case – as well as one with its name in it, which is used in signage on its stores.

Tesco filed a counterclaim against Lidl in April, arguing that the “wordless mark” trademark should not be considered valid because Lidl has never used it in the UK. It also accused the German chain of trademarking it for “the purposes of deployment as a weapon in legal proceedings”.

Mrs Justice Joanna Smith began overseeing the case at the High Court on Tuesday. She was shown an assortment of the logos in question, including Lidl’s yellow circle, which is surrounded by a red ring, and Tesco’s yellow circle, which has no red ring and contains the words “Clubcard Prices” in the middle.

A Tesco spokesman 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.”

Further evidence will be heard over the days to come.

It comes shortly after another high-profile legal battle between Aldi and Marks & Spencer.

Earlier this month Aldi lost a year-long court battle with M&S when a judge ruled the discounter had infringed M&S’s copyrighted designs for light-up gin bottles. Aldi could now be forced to pay damages to M&S.

M&S had argued that Aldi’s gold flaked, blackberry and clementine gin liqueurs were overly similar to its own products.

Aldi claimed elements of the designs were “commonplace” and used widely across the alcohol sector.

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