The case of the copy caterpillar
The Colin the Caterpillar cake, an original family favourite from Marks & Spencer, has been a staple at many celebrations since 1990. But this past week saw M&S launched legal action against Aldi, as their Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake - which appears to be a not-too-distant cousin of Colin – allegedly infringes on Colin’s trademark. M&S argues that Aldi’s version of their popular pudding is “riding on the coat-tails” of their reputation and that the “substantial similarity” could lead consumers to falsely believe the two products are sourced to the same standards.
In some ways it’s surprising M&S hasn’t taken action sooner, Colin isn’t the only caterpillar cake around and many supermarkets have their own versions of this product. But it does highlight the importance of respecting intellectual property. Even where products or designs may be similar, it’s important to respect the boundaries of creativity and not cross into plagiarism.
As a creative agency, this caught our attention. We are passionate about the work we produce and spend a considerable amount of time and effort helping clients build brands and tell their stories, therefore understand the impact of others using your work as their own.
Aldi has been quick to harness this opportunity and the power of social media to try to change the narrative tweeting a number of witty and responses like "This is not just any court case, this is... #FreeCuthbert" and “Just colin our lawyers #FreeCuthbert”. They fleetingly draw a smile with Bernie Ecclestone’s infamous narrative “all publicity is good publicity” ringing in our ears.
We’ve seen lots of mixed responses across the creative industry as to whether Cuthbert is a Colin copy, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: infringing on someone’s IP is not acceptable. We are watching this case transpire, sitting tight to see if M&S will get their cake and eat it.