Aldi sues Tesco over display of retailer's trademark logo

Tue, May 22, 2012, 01:00

SUPERMARKET CHAIN Aldi has sued rival Tesco Ireland over alleged infringement of its trademarks in a Tesco in-store campaign involving alleged inaccurate, misleading and unfair comparison of the prices of products sold by the two retailers.

The recent use of the Aldi marks in banners displayed in Tesco stores was “the final straw” in circumstances where Aldi had been complaining to Tesco of infringement of its marks since 2009, Aldi director Niall O’Connor said in an affidavit.

The banners were displayed in recent months at Tesco stores at Rathmines Road, Jervis Street and Parnell Street in Dublin, and at Monasterevin Road, Kildare, he said. The banners featuring the Aldi trademarks related to various products “without any attempt to use those marks for comparative advertising”, he said.

Aldi has alleged that Tesco, in its pricing campaign, has failed to compare like with like, misstated the prices and failed to compare the relevant quantity of the Tesco product with an equivalent Aldi product. Tesco, for example, compared the price of mint humbugs sold by it and Aldi and stated the weight of both bags was 250g when the Tesco product was 200g, Aldi claims. A comparison of maple syrup was also inaccurate as the Tesco product contained 40 per cent Canadian maple syrup while the Aldi product had 100 per cent, it claimed.

Aldi Ireland had been writing to Tesco Ireland about the issue since May 2009 and said it did not accept Tesco’s position that certain inaccuracies in price comparison, which Tesco said were due to “human error”, did not amount to unfair commercial practices and created no material risk of consumer confusion.

Aldi said it had not been anxious to get involved in litigation and had instead reported the matter to the National Consumer Agency and the Advertising Standards Authority. However, the display of Aldi marks on banners was the “final straw”.

The proceedings against Tesco Ireland Ltd were transferred on consent to the Commercial Court yesterday by Mr Justice Peter Kelly on the application of Michael McDowell SC, for Aldi.

The judge made directions for exchange of legal documents and returned the matter to July.