Tesco Make a Not So Lidl Mistake

Category

Branding

Read Time

3 min

Published

20 March, 2024

Supermarket giant Tesco have been forced into changing their Clubcard Prices logo after losing their legal battle with rival Lidl.

Lidl argued that Tesco’s design work of a yellow circle on a blue background infringed its copyright, and took “unfair advantage” of its “reputation for great value.”

The dispute started when Tesco began using a yellow circle design set on a blue background to promote their Clubcard offers and loyalty scheme. Lidl’s logo follows the same design setup, with an additional red outline around the circle and their brand name across the centre.

Lidl logo alongside Tesco Clubcard logo on blue background

Lidl initially filed their lawsuit against Tesco back in 2020, arguing that Tesco had deliberately copied their trademarked logo to deceive customers into thinking their prices were comparable.

In their ruling, the judges said “Tesco’s appeal against trademark infringement and passing off should be dismissed” but agreed with the high court that there had not been copyright infringement.

Tesco can’t escalate the case further and it is understood that they’ve accepted the ruling and will update the logo design in the coming weeks. During the case, Tesco suggested that this rebrand would cost them around £7.8m.

And that’s without the compensation they now owe to Lidl.

In an interview with BBC, supermarket branding expert Campbell Rigg said:

The whole affair could have been avoided had Tesco’s marketing team done so-called “benchmarking” research before designing the logo.

Benchmarking is the process of reviewing competitors and others in the market to see how they’re positioned. If this exercise was more robust, Tesco might not have found themselves in this situation.

Obviously, at Canny Creative, we’re not lawyers. We’re designers. But the whole thing strikes me as a little odd.

Trademark law when it comes to design in the UK is funny business.

What the two supermarkets were arguing over was essentially a primary shape and a primary colour.

According to the Intellectual Property Office website, Lidl’s protection extends to their full logo mark.

That is, the yellow circle, with a red outline, with a blue square background, with the word Lidl across the middle of it.

Tesco’s Clubcard logo was a yellow circle on a blue square background. It didn’t have a red outline, and surprisingly, it didn’t feature the word Lidl across the middle of it.

If you were to go strictly by the book, Tesco’s Clubcard logo is nothing like Lidl’s protected mark.

But as this is a case of “passing off”, it’s less about the trademark, and more about the deception. And of that, it appears Tesco are guilty AF.

Anyway, if Tesco wants to save 50% on their rebranding bill, I’d be more than happy to restrict my costs to £4mil to change their yellow circle.

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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