Friday, September 29

Lidl wins the legal battle of the Thermomix

Lidl had the right to market your food processor and did not copy any proprietary products of Thermomix. Section 15 of the Court of Barcelona has upheld the appeal filed by Lidl against Vorwerk (holder of the Thermomix brand) in the lawsuit that brought them face to face with the marketing of their kitchen robot. In a sentence issued on January 13, the court of section 15 of the Barcelona Court, upholds the appeal filed by Lidl against the sentence issued by the commercial court 4 of Barcelona that ruled that the supermarket had invaded the robot’s patent kitchen Thermomix and condemned her to withdraw all her kitchen robots Mr Cousin Connect. Against the judicial decision it is possible to file, within 20 days following the notification, appeals for procedural infraction.

The magistrates of the Barcelona Court consider that the patent in which Vorwerk was based to impute the infringement of his rights is null for two different reasons. In the first place, due to the existence of “added matter” due to “the protection having been extended illegitimately in the course of the patent process.” It also considers that the Thermomix patent “did not have an inventive step”. The Court also considers that, even if the patent were not valid, there was no infringement by Lidl of the Vorwerk patent.

According to the sentence, the appeal filed by Lidl against the sentence that led to the commercialization of its kitchen robot issued in January 2021 is upheld. As a consequence, Vorwerk’s claim is “entirely” dismissed and the costs of the process are imposed. . “We declare the nullity of the Spanish patent ES 2,301,589, validation of the European patent EP 1,269,898, which is entitled “Kitchen machine” and we order the defendant to pay the costs of the counterclaim. We do not impose costs of the resource, with return of the deposit”.

The trial focused on technical issues that sought to justify the differential character of the Thermomix with respect to Lidl’s kitchen robot. Many other appliances have the same functions, but Vorwerk was trying to protect its market, not in vain its appliance is priced three times higher than Lidl’s. The sentence focuses on an element that was intended to be differential and that consisted of the safety mechanisms by which the blades stopped when the ingredient introduction duct was opened. “The conclusion we reached is that there is no infringement because the defendant’s food processor (from Lidl) does not reproduce that sequence necessary for it to be possible to intervene safely in the shaker. In the Lidl food processor the The lid can be opened without the need for any prior action, that is, without the need to previously stop the stirring mechanism and it is this opening or unlocking of the lid by means of a small turn on its axis that determines the stopping of the stirring mechanism, if well, not immediately,” states the ruling.

In the process, the German group alleged that Lidl had violated its patent and demanded compensation for damages of 10% of the gross amount of the sales of the allegedly infringing products.

Lidl’s kitchen robot became a bestseller. Unlike the Vorwek Thermomix, whose price exceeds 1,250 euros, Lidl’s went on the market for about 360 euros with similar specifications. Other brands, such as Moulinex, Cecotec and others, market food processors similar to the Thermomix but with considerably lower prices although with similar technical specifications, so a ruling in favor of the Thermomix could have led to a string of lawsuits. What made the Lidl and Thermomix robots quite similar is their ability to connect to the internet to follow recipes, since the use of rotating blades and heat in a single device is common to many other devices of this type.

One of the elements with which Thermomix intended to justify the patent usurpation was the ability to weigh accurately (one gram) while cooking, while in other systems it is required to stop the machine to weigh the ingredients that are going to be weighed. adding to the mixing bowl. That invention would make the Thermomix different from other food processors. In the Lidl machine it is not possible to weigh while cooking.

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Lidl denied that its product infringed any patent and filed a “counterclaim” against Vorwerk requesting the declaration of invalidity of the patent for “lack of novelty”, for “lack of inventive activity” and for “addition of matter”. The sentence estimates Lidl’s arguments.

In Spain, around 150,000 Thermomix units are sold per year. The price difference between the Thermomix appliance and its competitors is based on the sales system itself, based on the so-called ‘demonstrators’, saleswomen who visit the customer’s home to demonstrate the machine. Breaking into the customer’s home accelerates the purchase decision and creates links between the brand and its loyal buyers. In addition, only customers with sufficient purchasing power are capable of accepting the entrance of a stranger into their kitchen. However, the Lidl machine destroyed the future business plans of Thermomix, which hoped to promote the paid subscription to its Cookidoo internet service, access to cooking recipes through the internet. This service cost 36 euros a year last year and gives access to the official digital portal of Vorwerk recipes. The recipes are stored on the client’s machine (around a hundred) when they are downloaded, but they disappear if they unsubscribe from the paid service. On the Lidl machine, the internet cookbook is accessible with the machine, apart from the fact that the step-by-step guide doesn’t offer exactly the same functionality.