DRINKS firm Thatchers has lost a High Court trademark battle with supermarket chain Aldi over rival cider products, PA reporter Tom Pilgrim writes.

The Somerset-based brewer, which operates out of Myrtle Farm in Winscombe, sued the German discounter for allegedly infringing the trademark of its “cloudy lemon cider”, claiming that Aldi’s Taurus brand “copycatted” its product.

But in a ruling on Wednesday, a judge dismissed the Thatchers case.

At a trial in London in November, Thatchers accused Aldi of gaining an “unfair advantage” by copying the product the family-run cider business released in February 2020 “in both taste and appearance”.

Aldi lawyers also denied it was “passing off” its product, launched in May 2022, as one appearing to be from Thatchers and rejected claims that it was “riding on the coat-tails of the reputation” of the Thatchers brand.

Judge Clarke said she was “satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that seeing the Aldi product “would call to mind” the Thatchers trademark, causing “a link in the mind of the average consumer”.

But she concluded that Aldi had not infringed and was not liable for “passing off”, adding that the German supermarket’s product did not take unfair advantage of nor was “detrimental” to the reputation of the Thatchers trademark.

An Aldi spokesperson said: “There’s nothing cloudy about this judgment. It’s clear cut. Aldi exclusive brands are just that: exclusive to Aldi while leading the market on quality and price.”

During the trial, the judge was invited to take a “taste test” of the rival drinks.

She said in her ruling: “I have conducted my own blind taste test, as I was requested to do.

“I found the taste of the two products to be very similar, but I accept they are different.”

Thatchers Cider said it was disappointed with the ruling, but has vowed to keep innovating.

Speaking from Myrtle Farm, the family home of Thatchers Cider, fourth generation cider maker Martin Thatcher said: “As a Somerset family expertly crafting cider for 120 years, we were compelled to bring this case as we were concerned that the packaging of international retailer Aldi’s product was misleading shoppers due to the strong resemblance to Thatchers Cloudy Lemon Cider.

“We’re disappointed that the Judge didn’t agree with us.

"Despite the decision not going our way, we still believe taking this action was the right thing to do. We care about creating the perfect cider and thanks to a proud history of four generations of expert cider makers innovating and investing, we have done just that.

“So we will continue to innovate, producing premium ciders that people want to buy and enjoy.”

Thatchers’ barrister, Martin Howe KC, said the company spent nearly £3 million on marketing between 2020 and 2022 and had sold £20.7 million worth of the cloudy lemon cider drink as of September 2022.

Mr Howe said Aldi had achieved “extraordinarily high” sales of its Taurus product – more than £1.4 million – after a “lack both of development investment, or marketing spend”, adding that this “can only have been achieved by reason of Thatchers’ investment in the Thatchers product”.

But Judge Clarke ruled that claims that Aldi’s sales could only be the result of gaining unfair advantage from Thatchers’ investment “amount to little more than supposition”.

Aldi has since appealed a High Court ruling that it infringed the design of the British retailer’s product, with a judgment expected at a later date.