What a week it has been for copyright lawyers. Not only were they in demand to speak about the biggest news story of the day, but they got to eat cake as part of it.
Retail giant Marks & Spencer confirmed yesterday it had begun an intellectual property claim against rival Aldi over the similarities between their respective caterpillar cakes, Colin and Cuthbert.
The claim is essentially that Cuthbert has been masquerading as his more expensive equivalent Colin, with the similarities between the two confusing customers into thinking they are of the same standard (Obiter might suggest the fact you have bought it from Aldi might give away that you’re not eating the M&S version, but we’ll leave that to the lawyers to thrash out).
The story prompted thousands of Twitters users to make the same low-budget joke (‘this case has got legs’) and ensured plenty of airtime for the lesser-spotted intellectual property lawyer. Our favourite commentary was from Mark Caddle, a partner at Withers & Rogers, who dubbed the case as the ‘battle of the caterpillars’ – probably not a phrase he ever expected to use during his legal career.
We don’t know how the case will turn out, although both M&S and Aldi probably secured enough free publicity in a day to ensure the outcome is rather moot anyway. Aldi in particular seemed to take the claim in its stride, with the retailer provocatively tweeting: ‘This is not just any court case, this is… #FreeCuthbert’ – a reference of course to the M&S slogan. M&S’s Twitter feed has yet to come out of its cocoon to respond.