Lidl, the discount grocery chain from Germany that is not Aldi, recently opened its first U.S. stores in a handful of states. But not everyone is rolling out the welcome wagon. The nation’s largest supermarket chain is accusing the newcomer of trying to copycat its store-brand line of products.
In its initial complaint [PDF], Kroger compares Private Selection, its brand that the company estimates it has used since the ’90s, and for which it applied for a trademark in 2001 [PDF], with one of Lidl’s private brands, Preferred Selection.
Kroger uses the Private Selection brand for food items in its various grocery chains across the country. Lidl plans to carry some national brands, but about 90% house brands in its stores. Preferred Selection is one of those brands, and Lidl US has applied for a trademark.
Are these brands, which the two grocery chains put on similar food products, too much alike for comfort? Kroger thinks so, and is suing Lidl to stop its use of the name and for its profits from Preferred Selection products. Kroger’s attorneys claim that the existence of the brand is “likely to cause confusion, likely to cause dilution, and constitute unfair competition” for its Private Selection brand.
Lidl only has a handful of stores along the East Coast now, but has plans to expand quickly. It has more than 10,000 stores around the world, making it even bigger than Kroger.