• Chronicle Andoni Monforte, the son of the PNV deputy who traveled to Africa to document the tiger nut 'fraud'
  • Demand.A Valencian company sits Facebook on the bench for closing its profile

Andoni Monforte is not afraid to face commercial giants. Through his company, Món Orxata sat Facebook on the bench for closing his account without prior notice after seven years of activity and now he has just won a trial against Lidl for copying his invention.

In 2012, Monforte presented a utensil invented and patented by him to make vegetable milks , including horchata, whose origin is tigernuts. He put it on the market under the name "Vegan Milker" of Chufamix SL , the small company he created to distribute it in more than 40 countries. The patent was granted by the European Patent Office in June 2017, in addition to being recognized as a creator by the Patent Offices of China, the US or Mexico, among others.

A month later, Lidl launched an identical utensil to the market that it sold in its stores under the name of 'Veggie Drink Maker'. Not only was it the same in its appearance and how it was used, but even the instruction manual it contained seemed to be copied from Chufamix's. "They traced us to the drawings in the instruction manual. Instead of hiding putting soy or almonds as an example of seeds that the invention can transform into vegetable drinks, their marketing department in Germany reproduced the same Valencian tigernuts that we had," explains Monforte .

In a few days, the businessman received claims and cancellations of orders from his distributors in the US, Belgium, the Netherlands or Portugal. Given the impossibility of competing in price with Lidl, Chufamix SL entered a cycle of losses in 2017.

The utensil marketed by Lidl and the one by Chufamix.EM

The inventor then sent a friendly request to the German multinational to withdraw his copy, which Lidl ignored, maintaining his sales campaigns. He had no choice but to go to the Valencian courts filing a complaint for a crime against industrial and intellectual property , admitted for processing, but which ended up in a court in Cerdanyola del Vallés, for being where the German company has its headquarters in Spain.

Lidl's response was to attack: he filed two other demands in Spain and one in Germany to have the Valencian patent revoked. While in Spain the processes have not advanced, on June 19, the three judges of the 7th Civil Chamber of the Provincial Court of Mannheim (Germany) leaned in favor of the Spanish, considering in their judgment that the German company has infringed the Spanish patent and must therefore compensate.

"I am still waiting for Lidl to explain to us how it is possible for the tigernuts and drawings in our instruction manual to appear in his, or why his utensil is traced to ours. I wrote a kind letter to the owner and CEO of LIDL, Dieter Schwarz, although they probably have not even sent it to them, "says Monforte, who considers that suing three times" a small startup company also denotes a tremendous lack of ethics. "

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