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Robotics company AutoStore said it filed complaints in the U.S. and U.K. to prevent the U.K.-based company, which builds automated warehouses for grocers’ online orders, and its partners “from manufacturing and selling infringing products and importing them into the United States,” and to seek “financial damages.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: AutoStore claims Ocado’s so-called Ocado Smart Platform was built using its intellectual property, including its storage system that stacks bins vertically in a grid and stores them in a cubic structure, as well as the use of robots that retrieve the bins by travelling to the top of the structure. It said Ocado is an AutoStore customer and purchased its technology in 2012. “Our ownership of the technology at the heart of Ocado’s warehousing system is clear,” said CEO Karl Johan Lier in the company’s statement. Ocado told Reuters it is “not aware of any infringement” and “will investigate any claims” when it receives more details. It said it also has patents protecting the use of its systems, and plans to investigate any possible AutoStore infringement of its intellectual property. Ocado partnered with Sobeys in early 2018 to build multiple automated warehouses in Canada, starting with the Greater Toronto Area. Sobeys launched Voilà, its new e-commerce service, earlier this year. Its parent firm Empire and other grocers benefited from changing consumer habits as COVID-19 spread throughout Canada and customers ate out less and opted to shop online.

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Empire benefited from changing consumer habits as COVID-19 prompted people to stay at home as much as possible, meaning less eating out and more cooking at home, as well as an increase in online grocery shopping. It expects people will continue to cook more even as restaurants reopen and plans to quicken the pace of construction for its automated grocery-delivery distribution centres. (The Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: Empire partnered with British firm Ocado in early 2018 to build automated warehouses for online orders, first in the Greater Toronto Area; the service, dubbed Voilà, launched in June. The pandemic has forced Canada’s largest grocers to turbo-charge their e-commerce plans as people turned to online shopping. In addition to building four warehouses in total, Empire plans to start using the automated technology to pick orders in stores located outside of the distribution centres’ delivery areas. Empire’s competitors have also worked to expand their grocery-delivery services, with Loblaw launching a meal-kit service while others have started to pilot drone-delivery programs.