Grocery giant Kroger does not have the right to preclude others from using generic terms in connection with any good or service, attorneys for grocery chain Lidl US wrote in response to Kroger’s lawsuit claiming Lidl copied its logo for its premium store brands.
Kroger filed suit June 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond claiming Lidl’s “Preferred Selection” brand logo was similar to Kroger’s “Private Selection” brand logo that Kroger has used for about 20 years.
Germany-based Lidl, which has its U.S. headquarters in Arlington County, opened its first 10 stores in the U.S., including stores in Hampton and Virginia Beach, on June 15. Four Richmond-area Lidl stores open July 27. Lidl plans to open at least 100 stores in the United States by next summer.
In a response filed with the federal court late Friday, Lidl US denied Kroger’s allegations of trademark infringement. Responding paragraph by paragraph to each claim or statement in Kroger’s complaint, Lidl also denied Kroger’s claims that the logos could be confused by consumers.
“Lidl denies that its use of Preferred Selection is likely to cause confusion, likely to cause dilution, or constitutes unfair competition,” Lidl attorneys wrote.
The logos feature the words private or preferred above the word selection.
Lidl denies that Kroger is entitled to any monetary relief. Kroger’s complaint requested the court to award it an amount that includes all profits Lidl receives from sales of Lidl’s Preferred Selection branded products, plus damages for trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition.
Lidl’s response also states that it acted in good faith when it chose its Preferred Selection logo and that Kroger has not suffered any harm.
Kroger operates nearly 2,800 stores in the U.S. under the Kroger, Harris Teeter and other banners. The chain has 18 stores in the Richmond area.
On July 11, Kroger attorneys filed as an exhibit the results of an expert study that showed about one in four people confused the brand logos in a head-to-head comparison.
Lidl operates more than 10,000 stores in 28 countries and has aggressive plans to expand in the U.S. Its Culpeper store opened, along with three others, on Thursday.
A hearing on Kroger’s motion for preliminary injunction is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 25 before U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr.