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4 of the biggest legal battles that rocked retail

High street giant H&M has launched a lawsuit against Shein for copyright infringement, seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to stop the fast-fashion retailer from copying its copyrighted designs.

With claims summoning back to July 2021, Top100 retailer, H&M has confirmed the hearing is set to take place on 31 July.

However, the this is not the first time major retailers have been at war with each other in a legal battle. From suing supermarkets to caterpillar copyright claims, InternetRetailing looks at some of the biggest legal battles in recent years.

Ocado v AutoStore

Just this week Ocado won its three year long robot war legal battle against rival Norwegian company AutoStore.

Back in 2020, AutoStore attempted to protect six patents that it said Ocado had breached, and launched a legal battle, however, from this month the company will pay Top350 retailer Ocado £200 million in 24 monthly instalments.

“I am pleased that we have worked together to resolve our differences and can now continue to focus on what we do best – innovating, developing and enabling partners to access world beating technology,” Ocado CEO Tim Steiner said.

AutoStore chief executive Mats Hovland Vikse added: “We are glad to have achieved a resolution that gives both companies opportunity and freedom to commercialise our extensive patent portfolios.”

M&S v Aldi

Marks and Spencer (M&S) and discount grocer Aldi have come to blows twice in the last few years, with a legal battle first kicking off in 2021 after M&S started legal action in an effort to protect its Colin the Caterpillar cake.

The Leading Retailer claimed that Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar product infringed its trademark.

In February last year, the pair managed to reach a settlement through a “confidential agreement” over the copyright issue

However, as a result, the discount grocer also filed its own trademark application for Cuthbert.

Despite the settlement in caterpillar cake dispute, M&S also took Aldi to court again, this time over its gold-flake gin, ‘The Infusionist’, claiming it is a dupe of it’s Light-Up Gin.

The Aldi version, which has an identical bottle shape and also illuminates from below, both features gold flakes in the liquid, but Aldi’s version was being sold for £6 cheaper.

According to M&S court documents said, Aldi’s liqueurs “constitute designs which do not produce on the informed user a different overall impression to the M&S designs.”

Sainsbury’s v Tesco

Two of the largest UK supermarkets have had legal issues over marketing and advertising claims over its “Price Promise” comparison scheme.

In 2013, Sainsbury’s took legal action against the rival Big 4 grocer over a series comparative advertisements where Tesco was claiming it offered lower prices than Sainsbury’s.

According to Sainsbury’s these claims were misleading, resulting in the supermarket giant filing a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

After nearly four months of investigating the complaint, the ASA ruled in favour of Tesco, however, a year later Sainsbury’s got the green light to appeal the claims. Sainsbury’s argued that Tesco Price Promise was “misleading” failed to take into account product attributes such as relative quality, provenance and ethics.

Guess v Gucci

Back in 2009, luxury fashion retailer Gucci accused Guess of of trademark infringement over their interlocking G logos.

Gucci subsequently filed for lawsuits in Italy, France, Australia and China. However, judges in Milan and Paris ruled in favour of Guess and the luxury retailer won favour in Australia and China.

In 2018, Gucci and Guess finally settled the nine-year legal battle and in n a joint statement, the pair said: “The agreement is an important step for both companies in recognising the significance of protecting their respective intellectual property portfolios and design creativity.”

Click to view all our reports featuring a raft of retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, M&S, Aldi, Guess and Gucci.

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