Kroger’s Trademark Injunction Request Against Lidl Is Denied

By Joseph Mandour on July 27, 2017

Los Angeles – The Private Selection versus Preferred Selection trademark battle between grocery giants Kroger and Lidl will proceed, as a federal judge in Richmond Virginia has denied Kroger’s preliminary injunction request.

The issue at play is over alleged trademark infringement over the company’s logos for a sub-set of their products. Kroger has a logo for its “Private Selection” brand, found on more than 1,000 of its products. Lidl has a logo for its “Preferred Selection” products, found on about 160 out of 3,000 products.

Kroger is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and operates more than 2,800 grocery stores. It is the largest US-based grocery chain.

Lidl is a company based in Germany with more than 10,000 stores in Europe. The company is slowly entering the U.S. market, currently operating 17 stores. There are four in the works to launch in the Richmond Virginia area, where the case was heard. Their goal is to have more than 100 stores open in the United States by mid-2018.

While Lidl filed the trademark for its Preferred Selection logo last September and Kroger was made aware of it at least by November, Kroger waited to file a lawsuit until June 30 of this year. This was less than two weeks after Lidl opened its first store in the United States.

Kroger claims the similarity in the trademarks will lead consumers to falsely believe the companies are related, giving Lidl an unfair advantage in trading of Kroger’s goodwill. When the case went before a judge, both companies presented expert witnesses who gathered consumer data trying to make a case for or against the likelihood of consumer confusion.

U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. denied the request for a preliminary injunction, saying that while the logos look “somewhat alike,” they lack identical or similar meanings. The case is set for trial on January 11.

Lidl has argued that Kroger is using the lawsuit to try to damage its emergence into the American market. The lawsuit is meant to “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.”

Lidl also argues that Kroger is trying to drag out a costly legal battle to try to drive up Lidl’s prices. Lidl is in direct competition with Kroger, given the same target audiences and similar products offered. Lidl is also promising to deliver prices up to 30% cheaper than its competitors.

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