Supposed competitor is not a “Käpt‘n Iglo“ lookalike

unfair competition misleading commercial practice

Captain Iglo

Following a legal dispute that lasted many years between fish finger manufacturer Iglo and its competitor Appel Feinkost, Iglo has suffered yet another setback.

Iglo had sought a court order to prevent its competitor from advertising fish products featuring the image of a character similar to the well-known Captain Iglo. However, the court of second instance also ruled in favour of the competitor, stating that there is no likelihood of confusion between the advertising figures. Although both advertising figures have beards and wear caps and are shown against a maritime backdrop, this was deemed insufficient proof of the alleged imitation pursuant to Section 4 no. 3 of the German Unfair Competition Act (UWG). This is because, unlike Captain Iglo, the figure used to advertise the opposition's products is not a sailor, but a man dressed in an elegant three-piece suit.

Moreover, given that the appearance of Captain Iglo has changed over time, it was not possible to identify the original Captain Iglo sailor. Competition law does not afford protection to the general idea of an advertising figure, but solely to the specific design used. Appel Feinkost is not deemed to have a competitive advantage as a result of the advertising, and consumers are able to recognize that the two advertising figures belong to different companies and/or products.