Food processor Thermomix, model TM5
Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd / picture alliance / dpa
The Thermomix, an expensive high-tech kitchen appliance for chopping, blending and cooking, is popular with customers - and unaffordable for many people. The latest model of the food processor costs over 1,300 euros. With the model "Monsier Cuisine", which the discounter Lidl offered at a fraction of the price, a bestseller quickly emerged - and a nuisance for the Thermomix manufacturer Vorwerk, who accused Lidl of stealing ideas. Wrongly so, as a Spanish court of appeal has now determined.
A lawsuit by Vorwerk against the German discounter Lidl for "theft of intellectual property" was dismissed.
A whole series of technical specifications would prove that the "Monsieur Cuisine" model differs from the Thermomix, the judges explained.
Also, the Thermomix patent did not contain sufficient "inventive step" to justify protection.
Bad omen for further processes?
A lower Spanish court had initially ordered Lidl to withdraw its product from the market and to pay damages and legal costs to Thermomix manufacturer Vorwerk – a decision that has now lapsed.
"Even if the patent had been valid, Lidl would not have infringed it," the appeals court said in a statement.
The decision could be a bad omen for further legal action that Vorwerk had announced against the discounter.
Lidl has also sold its devices in other European countries, including Germany and France.