High Court judge to sample cider in Aldi-Thatchers ‘copycat’ row

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By Rhys Duncan on


Nice work if you can get it

A High Court judge is set to take the somewhat unusual step of sampling rival ciders as part of an ongoing trademark dispute between Thatchers and Aldi.

In the High Court case, concerning Thatchers cloudy lemon cider and Aldi’s Taurus brand, the German retailer has been accused of “riding on the coat tails” of Thatcher’s success.

In claiming that the Aldi product had damaged Thatchers’ trademark, Martin Howe KC, for Thatchers, asked Her Honour Judge Melissa Clarke to conduct a blind taste test of the two drinks, The Law Society Gazette reports.

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Having conducted a similar experiment himself, along with his junior and a pupil, the KC argued that “[the products] do taste materially different, at least to a substantial number of people, and that will skew the public appreciation of the product and therefore damage the trademark.”

Whilst agreeing to this request, HHJ Clarke declined to do so in court. “I have a no-alcohol while sitting rule” she went on. Howe’s suggestion that the cider was in fact not particularly strong, coming in at 4% alcohol, was met with a simple remark that that was “strong enough”.

Instead, the ciders will be sent to Oxford for Clarke to try in private.

Speaking elsewhere during the case, Howe claimed that Aldi has received an “unfair advantage” due to the similarity of the branding and packaging of the two drinks.

“This has given Aldi an advantage”, he said. “They do not seem to have promoted this product but have achieved very large sales from a standing start and that was, in essence, their plan all along, which was to use the similarity between the appearance of the products.”

Aldi denies any intention to deceive customers. The trial continues.