Pimms amok? Diageo accuses Sainsbury’s of copyright infringement

Its clever marketing campaign has meant it’s the drink which has come to symbolise the great British barbeque, but it seems those summer fantasies may be about to be dashed after Pimms manufacturer Diageo accused Sainsbury’s of copyright infringement.

The drinks giant announced yesterday it would be taking legal action after the supermarket launched a rival gin-based summer drink called Pitchers.

Not only does Pitchers have a logo, label and bottle which bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Pimms, but it has also been marketed as a spirit which can be mixed with fruit and lemonade and, as a Management Today blog pointed out this morning, its marketing material ‘even specifically mentioned the fact that it was cheaper and tastier than Pimms’.

Saindsbury’s must be a little concerned: Diageo owns drinks brands including Guinness, Baileys, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan – which means if it were to withhold any of its products from the supermarket, it could stand to lose a considerable amount.

A Diageo spokesperson, though, said the legal action ‘will not affect its relationship’ with the supermarket.

“Sainsbury’s is a valued customer of Diageo and we hope it will continue to be so for many years. It is Diageo’s firm intent that our strong trading relationship should not be affected by this discrete dispute.”

The supermarket, on the other hand, was distinctly surly about the news.  “The clue is in the name,” grunted one spokesperson - a defence Sainsbury's presumably doesn't intend to use in court. “We see no basis for such a claim.”

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