From: Giovanni Laporta, inventor and innovator, Smart Ready
You have no doubt seen the story in the news recently about the branding battle between Lidl and Tesco. After Tesco launched its Clubcard logo – a yellow circle on a blue background – Lidl made the bold move of taking them to court, claiming that Tesco were seeking to ‘deliberately ride on the coat tails of Lidl’s reputation’ in order to better compete with the discount supermarket. And they won. The judge sided with Lidl’s claims of trademark infringement, passing off and copyright infringement.
This welcome landmark case reminds us of all of what is ‘brandable’ in the eyes of the law. Lidl weren’t just fighting for the colours and the design. They were fighting to protect their brand equity that has a proven association with a strong value proposition (the Lidl logo) in the minds of consumers.
Sadly, cases like these don’t just happen in the global household brand arena. As I have written about before, they happen regularly in and out of our industry. We trademarked Smart Ready, Ready and our other associated brands, to provide legal protection to ensure the significant creativity and investment which we’ve built up over the year, is not called into question when others are trying to muddy the waters or deliberately ride on the coat tails of our brand. It’s quite simple to avoid a letter from our solicitors. If you like our brand, buy products from those who are legally allowed to use our brand.
The upheld infringements we’ve personally experienced as a business to date, have also meant we have been forced to keep our brand launch strategy quiet while we put the final touches to our game-changing solutions. We will not stand silently under the premise that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. It’s not. It’s cheap, lazy and shameless to copy our thinking, based on what some have already seen us do publicly or on what they think we’re going to do.
Smart Ready® is in it for the long term and we are not prepared to risk the great smart opportunity we’re faced with as a sector because of half-truths being promoted, damaging the credibility of our sector and leading us straight back into the bad old days of rogue industry territory.
I will continue to protect my brands – existing and future – so consumers get what they are being promised, and in the meantime, I applaud Lidl for backing their brand.