Lidl addressed a lawsuit filed by Kroger this month, citing a “striking absence of evidence” that it had infringed on the Midwest-based grocer’s trademark.
According to Business Insider, Lidl filed papers in Virginia U.S. District Court last Friday, July 14th, responding to Kroger’s claims that Lidl’s private label brand, “Preferred Selection” too closely resembles Kroger’s “Private Selection.”
“Kroger is using this lawsuit to try to: disrupt the on-going launch of a new, emerging competitor that offers consumers high-quality products at far lower prices; distract from the positive reviews garnered by Lidl’s launch by painting Lidl as a copycat—when in fact Lidl is a decidedly different and (better) grocery experience; and drive up Lidl’s costs by having to defend against Kroger’s spurious claims,” Lidl stated in documents filed with the district court.
Kroger’s lawsuit, filed less than two weeks after Lidl’s U.S. launch in mid-June, alleges that the close resemblance between Kroger’s well-established private label brand and Lidl’s newly-copyrighted one would allow Lidl to “compete unfairly” as customers associated the two brands with one another.
"As a direct result of Lidl’s wrongful conduct," Kroger's initial filing alleges, "Kroger has suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable injury, including, but not limited to, injury to its trademarks and to the goodwill and business reputation associated with those trademarks."
Lidl countered, in its subsequent filing, that Kroger's lawsuit is instead an attempt to stifle emerging competition.
“Against that backdrop and in reaction to this increased competition, Kroger—two weeks later and without notice to Lidl—filed this suit and motion for a preliminary injunction on the Friday evening before the long July 4th weekend, and sought to have a hearing just days later to try to ram through extraordinary competitive relief to which it is not entitled,” Lidl’s filings state. “Although Kroger learned in November 2016 that Lidl intended to offer private-label products under the ‘Preferred Selection’ name and had more than six months to prepare its moving papers, Kroger has offered a striking absence of evidence in support of its claims.”
Will the two companies resolve their differences in court, and what affects will this dust up have on the retail landscape? Deli Market News will continue to report.