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King's Hawaiian

Want some Hawaiian sweet rolls from ALDI, that totally aren’t the same thing as King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls, even though they look just the same? And if you accidentally confuse the two, ALDI wouldn’t mind at all.

But King’s Hawaiian does.

The company has filed a lawsuit against ALDI, accusing the discount retailer of making its store-brand Hawaiian sweet rolls look just a little too much like King’s Hawaiian’s signature product.

With similar packages, typeface and “the prominent use of the color orange,” King’s Hawaiian says ALDI’s sweet rolls “intentionally and willfully employ product packaging that is confusingly similar” to King’s Hawaiian. The company claims ALDI “has adopted and used its deceptively-similar packaging with the
intent to trade off the enormous goodwill that King’s Hawaiian has earned.”

It’s the second time this year ALDI has been the target of such a lawsuit. In April, Georgia-Pacific sued, because it claimed ALDI’s “Soft Touch” brand toilet paper looked deceptively similar to its Angel Soft brand.

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And that copycat case was far from the first. In 2014, Welch’s Fruit Snacks maker Promotion in Motion sued over ALDI’s lookalike “Lunch Buddies” fruit snack products. And back in 2010, Coca-Cola sued ALDI for mimicking the look of its “Simply” brand juice products.

All three cases were ultimately settled out of court. So if the past is any indication, ALDI may not put up much of a fight to defend its Hawaiian sweet roll packaging.

For a retailer that’s known for, and perhaps even prides itself on, store brand products that have similar names and packaging as national brands, ALDI may simply consider such lawsuits the cost of doing business. If it can get away with selling products like “Cinnamon Crunch Squares” and “Honey Nut Crispy Oats,” it can not-so-subtly suggest to shoppers what more expensive equivalent its lower-cost alternative is meant to mimic. But if it gets called out for doing so, all it has to do is settle the case by agreeing to stop.

The retailer tried to defend itself against the Coca-Cola lawsuit in 2010, but it didn’t even deny the later allegations from Promotion in Motion and Georgia-Pacific, instead reaching swift settlements in those cases.

King’s Hawaiian could be hoping for a similar outcome. If not, it’s seeking unspecified damages for trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

So if the packaging of ALDI’s Hawaiian sweet rolls changes soon, now you know why. And if ALDI faces more lookalike lawsuits in the future – now you know why, too.

One Comment

  1. Kinda sounds like a shady store if you ask me.

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