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Hendrick’s forces Lidl to stop selling lookalike gin

Supermarket chain Lidl has been ordered to temporarily withdraw its Hampstead gin brand across Scotland following a trademark battle with the producer of Hendrick’s.

Hendrick's gin
Distilled in Scotland, Hendrick’s gin is flavoured with cucumber and rose

Hendrick’s Gin maker William Grant & Sons took the German discount retailer to court over Lidl’s alleged trademark infringement in the UK.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lord Clark gave the Glenfiddich owner an interim interdict, which temporarily prevents Lidl from selling Hampstead gin in Scotland.

The UK trademark for Scottish gin brand Hendrick’s depicts the apothecary-style shape of the bottle and its diamond-shaped label. The brand was launched in 2000 and sells more than one million cases annually.

Lidl owns the UK trademark for the word ‘Hampstead’ under class 33 for alcoholic beverages. The retailer unveiled a new design for the own-label gin in 2020, and changed its bottle size from 500ml to 700ml.

The redesigned product was sold in stores across the UK from December last year. Hampstead Gin has been sold by Lidl for at least a decade, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit noted that the redesign consisted of a number of changes that ‘could not have been accidental’, including amending the label and the colour of the bottle to a similar colour used by Hendrick’s, and featuring images of cucumbers, which are typically associated with the William Grant brand.

Furthermore, Hampstead’s ABV was changed to 41.4%, the same as Hendrick’s.

The lawsuit said: “Consumers would recognise the common elements in the getup and assume that the pursuer is involved in the manufacture or sale of Hampstead gin.”

As such, this would lead to ‘brand dilution and loss of sales’ for the Hendrick’s Gin producer, the lawsuit continued.

Hampstead gin
Lidl’s Hampstead gin was given a redesign in 2020

The lawsuit said: “The only credible explanation for these design changes was that the defenders intended to trade off the pursuer’s reputation and goodwill.”

Lord Clark noted that Hampstead gin is priced at £15.99 (US$23), while Hendrick’s gin retails at approximately £30 (US$42).

William Grant also presented posts on social media that referenced the similarities between the two products.

In its defence, Lidl said Hendrick’s was not sold in any of its stores in Great Britain and never had been. Lidl said its typical customer would not expect to find Hendrick’s for sale in its stores.

Furthermore, the retailer pointed to the fact that 90% of its products are own-label goods.

‘Unfair advantage’

Lord Clark concluded that there was a “reasonable prospect of success on the part of the pursuer in showing a change in economic behaviour or a real likelihood of such a change by customers who buy from Lidl, and hence that it has created an unfair advantage”.

“There is some support within that (social media) material for the proposition of Lidl riding on the coattails of the Hendrick’s mark so as to benefit from its attraction and also that this could influence the economic behaviour of the defenders’ customers,” added Clark.

The court’s ruling only applies to Scotland.

Lidl said in a statement: “Although naturally disappointed, we note the court’s decision and have closely adhered to the requirements outlined within the ruling.

“We continue to liaise directly with the parties involved and hope to reach a satisfactory resolution in due course.”

William Grant & Sons said it would not comment on ongoing court cases.

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