Diageo has launched legal action against UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's, accusing the retailer of breaching copyright on the Pimm's brand. 

Diageo confirmed today (17 August) that it has filed for legal proceedings against Sainsbury's, the UK's third largest supermarket, "in relation to an intellectual property matter".

just-drinks understands that the case relates to Sainsbury's Pitchers brand, a gin-based drink devised to be mixed with fruit and lemonade.

Launched in April, Pitchers appears to be in direct competition with Diageo's Pimm's brand.

Sainsbury's described the brand as "cheaper than the branded equivalent" and as its "own version of the UK's favourite summer cocktail".

The retailer said in a statement today that it will "vigorously defend" itself against legal action. "Our customers are savvy enough to know exactly what they're buying, the clue is in the name, and we see no basis for such a claim," it said.

Diageo said it does not intend to sour wider relations with Sainsbury's over the dispute.

"Sainsbury's is a valued customer of Diageo and we hope will continue to be so for many years. It is Diageo's firm intent that our strong trading relationship should not be affected by this discrete dispute," the drinks giant said.