The Court of Appeal has recently upheld the decision handed down by His Honour Judge Hacon in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (High Court) in which he found that Aldi infringed a number of registered designs by Marks and Spencer (M&S) directed towards gin bottles containing suspended gold flakes and a light incorporated in the base of the bottle. B P Collins LLP’s dispute resolution practice explores the case and potential repercussions for the future.

In 2020, M&S launched a new range of gin products, which featured edible gold flakes and were packaged in light up gin bottles, decorated with festive scenes. In 2021, Aldi then released its own range of festive gin-based drinks, which also contained edible gold flakes and were packaged in light up bottles decorated with Christmas scenes.

M&S took legal action to protect the intellectual property of ‘their’ gin products, arguing that Aldi’s product was “strikingly similar” and therefore an infringement of its intellectual property. His Honour Judge Hacon found in favour of M&S, finding that there were “striking” similarities between the products which would be “significant” to shoppers, and stating that the differences pointed out by Aldi were “relatively minor”. Aldi appealed, on the grounds that the judge has erred in his interpretation of the Registered Designs and on various other technical points, but the appeal was dismissed on all grounds.

Aldi also appealed the judgment on the grounds that the judge fell into error regarding his comparison of the two products. It argued that the judge had not properly considered the impact of the absence of the snow effect and the integrated light on the comparison with respect to the Registered Designs which did not include those features, and secondly that the judge had given undue weight to the shapes of the bottles and stoppers.

Lord Justice Arnold sitting at the Court of Appeal found that Judge Hacon “…made no error of principle in comparing the overall impressions of the Aldi products with those of the Registered Designs, and his conclusion was one that he was fully entitled to reach.”

The dismissal of this appeal bucks the trend of Aldi’s prior successes in trademark infringement cases, possibility indicating the strategic value in registering products as designs rather simply relying on trademarks protections.

If you would like further advice on IP infringement, or any other commercial dispute, please contact B P Collins LLP’s dispute resolution group at or call 01753 889995.

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