Marks & Spencer has started legal action against Aldi in an effort to protect its Colin the Caterpillar cake with a claim that its rival’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar product infringes its trademark.
M&S, which lodged an intellectual property claim with the High Court this week, is arguing that the similarity of Aldi’s product leads consumers to believe they are of the same standard and “ride on the coat-tails” of M&S’s reputation with the product.
M&S wants Aldi to remove the product from sale and agree not to sell anything similar in the future.
Colin the Caterpillar woke up today and chose pic.twitter.com/HzOJWyNZX9— Kate Thornley (@KateThornley3) April 15, 2021
M&S launched Colin the Caterpillar around 30 years ago and his appearance has been substantially unchanged since around 2004, except for adaptations for events such as Halloween and Christmas, and related products such as Connie the Caterpillar.
The product is central to M&S’s partnership with cancer charity Macmillan, and the retailer has created a Colin product for the annual World’s Biggest Coffee Morning fundraising event.
Wait till Colin the caterpillar finds out about Curly pic.twitter.com/daPvIGk2Go— Shirin ?? (@dangerhamster93) April 15, 2021
The cake is a sponge with milk chocolate and buttercream, topped with chocolate sweets and a smiling white chocolate face.
M&S has three trademarks relating to Colin, which the retailer believes means Colin has acquired and retains an enhanced distinctive character and reputation.
Send your best court reporters to this Colin the Caterpillar hearing. I'm gonna need liveblogs, reconstructions, the lot— Nick Walker (@nickw84) April 15, 2021
A spokesman said: “Because we know the M&S brand is special to our customers and they expect only the very best from us, love and care goes into every M&S product on our shelves.
“So we want to protect Colin, Connie and our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value.”
M&S was the first supermarket to sell a caterpillar cake, but many have since created similar products – including Waitrose’s Cecil, Sainsbury’s Wiggles, Tesco’s Curly, and Asda’s Clyde the Caterpillar.