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IP expert claims Aldi “copycat” make up could be damaging to bigger brands

Aldi’s newly released, discounted beauty products have been accused of “potentially infringing” major labels including Benefit, Nars, and Charlotte Tilbury.

The supermarket chain has recently unveiled its latest low-price Lacura cosmetics line, leading many observers, beauty shoppers and intellectual property experts to suggest they could be copycats of more established brands.

Aldi’s new, own-branded products, which include blush, bronzer, mascara and primer, have sparked controversy due to the similarities their distinctive design and packaging share with several well-known cosmetic labels, including Smashbox, Nars, and Benefit.

The difference in price between Aldi’s discounted cosmetic products and the major brand versions is significant, in one instance it is as much as £42. Aldi’s Broadway Shape and Glow bronzer, which has been likened to Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze and Glow, is selling for just £6.99 while the established brand is priced at £49. This has led many experts to speculate about the damaging effect of alleged copycat products on branded goods.

This isn’t the first time the German retailer has been accused of potentially infringing the intellectual property rights of established brands. Earlier this year sausage brand Heck and yoghurt maker The Collective also accused Aldi of copying their brands, a claim which the supermarket chain has denied.

But when it comes to own-brand “copycat” products, Jason Aghatise, our Chartered Trade Mark Attorney, said they could be extremely damaging to brands and their reputations.

Mr Aghatise said: “Consumers and industry experts alike have long speculated that big brands, such as Aldi, may have infringed their intellectual property rights by creating own-brand versions, which bear a striking resemblance to well-known products on the market.

“Put simply, an own-brand copycat product imitates the design of a leading brand to free ride on the latter's reputation. The issue of own-brand copycats allegedly infringing larger brand’s rights isn’t new. We see accusations of own-brand infringement frequently, which is why the industry will be keenly observing the unfolding legal action threatened by Heck as it could set a precedent for future cases.

“While many shoppers and bargain hunters may believe purchasing discounted brands to be harmless, and may even take advantage of the lower pricing, we believe that this could be extremely damaging to cosmetic companies which have invested significant funds, time and effort into creating, marketing, and launching successful products.

“A cheaper and potentially inferior version could not only damage the brand’s reputation, if it is poorly made, it could also drive sales away from established labels and place their longevity in jeopardy.”

Aldi has refuted claims that its own-brand products are copycats and has denied accusations of infringement.

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