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Aldi Christmas gin: why is M&S suing supermarket over Light Up gin - and how did Aldi respond on Twitter?

Following on from its lawsuit over Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake, M&S is suing Aldi for the second time this year

Just months after M&S sparked the Colin the Caterpillar cake controversy by suing Aldi for its Cuthbert cake, the retailer is suing Aldi once again over gin.

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Why is M&S suing Aldi?

According to court papers filed by M&S, the supermarket is suing Aldi over allegedly copying its Light Up gin, stating that Aldi’s gold flake and clementine gin liqueurs are “strikingly similar” to the design of its Light Up gin.

The Light Up gin, sold last Christmas as well, holds a registered design, and M&S is now seeking a High Court injunction restraining Aldi from any further alleged infringement of its protected designs.

The move would also order Aldi to destroy or hand over anything constituting a potential breach of the injunction as well as an inquiry into damages arising from the alleged infringement.

M&S’s Snow Globe gins were a sellout product last year (Photo: M&S)

In the court papers, M&S list a number of features which it says are protected, including the shape of the bottle, an integrated light feature, gold leaf flakes and a winter forest graphic. M&S also provided a number of examples of comparisons made in the press between the two products.

The documents claim that Aldi’s liqueurs “constitute designs which do not produce on the informed user a different overall impression to the M&S designs”.

From M&S, the Light Up gin liqueur duo, which includes one bottle of clementine gin liqueur and one bottle of spiced sugar plum gin liqueur, is available for £40. From Aldi, the gold flake blackberry gin liqueur and gold flake clementine gin liqueur are available separately, at £13.99 each.

What has M&S said about the case?

In a statement from a spokesperson, M&S said that it is seeking to “protect [its] customers from obvious copies”.

An M&S spokesperson said: “M&S has a proud history as a leading British innovator and for over 136 years customers have turned to M&S for unique, original, quality products - conceived, created and developed by us working with our trusted suppliers and produced to the highest standards.

“We’ve introduced many firsts to the UK - the first chilled chicken kiev, the introduction of pre-packed sandwiches, glitter gin globes, the first and only retailer to sell 100% RSPCA Assured milk and, of course, our character products.

An M&S spokesperson said that the brand wants to protect its customers from ‘obvious copies’ (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

“So, like many other UK businesses, large and small, we know the true value and cost of innovation and the enormous time, passion, creativity, energy and attention to detail, that goes into designing, developing and bringing a product to market and building its brand over many years.

“Our customers have confidence in our products because they trust our quality and sourcing standards so we will always seek to protect our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value – and protect our customers from obvious copies.”

Has Aldi responded to the lawsuit?

Following the news of the new lawsuit from M&S, the official Aldi Twitter account released a series of tweets making light of the situation.

Aldi tweeted: “Our lawyers gonna be so rich they be shopping in @marksandspencer soon #FreeCuthbert #Round2

“*opens folder of funny tweets we didn’t use last time* #FreeCuthbert #Round2”

“Nothing like getting taken to court to give you that tingly Christmas feeling #FreeCuthbert #Round2”

Aldi has made light of the situation on social media (Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“We’re Colin our lawyers #Round2 #FreeCuthbert”

“We’re… GINNOCENT #Round2 #FreeCuthbert”

What was the caterpillar cake controversy?

In April, M&S sued the budget supermarket over its Cuthbert cake, which it claimed to be a copy of its popular Colin the Caterpillar cake.

M&S said that Aldi’s Cuthbert cake was “riding on the coat-tails” of M&S’s reputation for high quality products.

Aldi argued that most UK supermarkets offer their own versions of the caterpillar cakes - Sainsbury’s sells Wiggles the Caterpillar cake, Waitrose Cecil the Caterpillar cake, Asda Clyde the Caterpillar cake, Co-op the Curious Caterpillar cake, and Tesco sells both Curly the Caterpillar cake and Calli the Caterpillar cake.

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