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Aldi and Lidl take rivalry to court

Last month we reported on a story about of an ex-Apple employee accused of stealing trade secrets in relation to Apple’s ‘Project Titan’, or in other words, Apple’s self-driving car project.  The accused in question, Jizhong Chen, raised the alarm after he was spotted taking photographs of confidential information on his work computer by other Apple employees.

This week, the theft of trade secrets has rocked the supermarket industry after it was announced that Aldi has accused Lidl and two ex-employees of stealing confidential information.

The two supermarket chains, both head-quartered in Germany, have been long-time rivals often in a race against one another to expand in to new territories such as the US. The premise of each of the supermarket chains is much the same; small warehouse like stores with minimum spending on advertising and marketing, which allows their goods to be sold at a discount rate.

Earlier this month, however, the rivalry turned up a notch after it was announced that Aldi had filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina accusing Lidl of hiring the ex-Aldi director of real estate despite her having signed a non-compete clause. The claim goes on to allege that an ex-Aldi real estate assistant has also passed over confidential information to Lidl.

The confidential information in question includes building cost estimates as well as important clauses included in Aldi’s leases and purchase agreements. Lidl has allegedly admitted to hiring the real estate director despite being aware of her non-compete clause.

As a result, Aldi is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for breach of contract, the theft of trade secrets, and deceptive practices.

The lawsuit will no doubt be adding to the rivalry between the two chains in their plans to expand into new territories.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.