MADRID – A Spanish appeals court has dismissed an intellectual property theft case brought by Vorwerk Electrowerk against German low-cost retailer Lidl for selling an appliance too similar to its popular kitchen gadget Thermomix that chops and cooks food.
Lidl used to sell its Monsieur Cuisine Connect appliance in Spain for a fraction of the 1,299 euros ($1,473) an original Thermomix can cost.
A lower court last January ordered Lidl to withdraw its product, pay damages and legal expenses to the German appliance maker, but a panel of three appeals judges in Barcelona overturned that ruling, according to a court document made public on Wednesday.
They ruled that a series of technical specifications showed the Monsieur Cuisine differed from Thermomix and that in itself the Thermomix patent lacked inventive steps to justify protection.
“The court finds that, even had the patent been valid, Lidl would not have violated the Thermomix patent,” the appeals court said in a statement
Vorwerk Electrowerk’s defeat in Spain does not bode well for the legal actions it has reportedly launched against Lidl in other countries.
Lidl has sold its appliances in other European countries, including France, where buyers formed huge lines outside Lidl supermarkets to buy them.
Lidl and Vorwerk did not return phone calls from Reuters seeking comment.
($1 = 0.8819 euro)