A German maker of a very famous food processor has won first instance infringement proceedings in Spain versus a German discounter chain manufacturing and distributing an allegedly similar product which retails at around 30% of the price of the original product.
The original food processor constitutes the dominant design amongst cooking machines and is protected by an extensive value-driven IP strategy which does not only avoid imitations in a classical sense. The strategy is also designed to: secure future market positions, manage risk arising from potential competitor rights and most importantly secure the unique selling proposition (USP) of the original product. The IP strategy is a role-model for integrating IP in the business model relating to a product. More on this can be found in a case study on the IP strategy.
The patent in question is reported to be the Spanish part of EP 1 269 898 covering two important aspects of the products USPs, namely its ease of use and the operational safety.
The manufacturer of the original product claimed compensation equivalent to 10% of the sales of the machine marketed by the competitor. As the compensation will be set in the execution phase of the judgement, the appealable decision of the Commercial Court 5 of Barcelona requires the competitor to withdraw all its infringing kitchen robots from the Spanish market.
The court concluded that the machine marketed by Lidl “reproduces each and every one of the characteristics” of the Vorwerk patent, thus violating the Patent Law.