Supermarket Accused of IP Infringement

Asda has withdrawn a range of healthy frozen ready meals after facing legal action from Slimming World.

Asda released its new “Slimzone” line in January; however Slimming World (which now has more than a million members and also markets its own range of foods) was unhappy with the branding used. In addition, they had not endorsed or tested the Slimzone products and it is not believed that Asda approached Slimming World before launching the products. As a result, Slimming World sought an injunction over the infringement of its intellectual property rights in relation to twelve meals on sale.

A Slimming World statement said: “Although we repeatedly asked Asda to give us a more detailed breakdown of the ingredients used so that we could make an accurate assessment, they would not supply those details.”

“[So] we were unable to confirm whether or not the meals would be designated as Free Food on Slimming World’s healthy eating plan.”

“It’s always been our view that Asda were misusing our trademarks to promote the range, trading on the back of our much-loved and respected name and reputation, regardless of whether the meals count as Free Food on our healthy eating plan.”

An Asda spokesman said: “We take great pride in the integrity of the claims we make about our products. Recent information has come to light indicating that the method used by Slimming World to assess whether a ready-meal is free or not, surprisingly, is partly subjective and involves more than simply making food with free ingredients.”

“Slimzone was always intended to bring more choice and lower prices to customers shopping for healthy frozen ready meals but because of this new information, we have chosen to remove the range while we consider the best option for our customers.”

Exploiting, copying or otherwise using another’s intellectual property rights without proper authorisation can amount to infringement. It is important to remember that trademark infringement is not a victimless crime – it can, and has the ability to, threaten legitimate businesses, employees and significantly undermine consumer confidence in a brand.

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Mohit Pasricha

Mohit Pasricha

Solicitor at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Mohit is a member of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s Corporate and Commercial Department in London. He joined the firm as a trainee in 2014, having completed a Law LLB at the University of Surrey and a Legal Practice Course at the University of Law.