Lindt loses chocolate bunny trademark case
The Lindt chocolate bunny, with its gold foil and little bell around its neck is immediately recognisable to many children.
But the company that makes them has been denied an EU trademark, after the European Court ruled that it was devoid of any distinctive character.
The ruling, which comes after a long-running battle waged by Lindt and Spruengli, will be welcomed by rival chocolate manufacturers and supermarkets, especially Aldi. The low-cost supermarket ran a cheeky advert two months ago mocking how much more expensive Lindt’s 100g £2.50 bunny was, in comparison with its slightly larger, by 99p bunny.
The ruling confirms an initial judgment made back in 2010, which the EU General Court examined the shape of the rabbit, the gold foil and the pleated red ribbon to which a small bell was attached.
It decided that “the combination of the shape, the colours and the pleated ribbon with a small bell are not sufficiently different” from the wrapping of other chocolate products, specifically rabbits.
Last year, Lindt successfully persuaded an Austrian court to stop rival chocolate-maker Hauswirth manufacturing Easter bunnies that resembled the Lindt product.
But the European Court of Justice, in its judgment on Thursday, decided that the Swiss chocolate maker had “failed to establish that the mark has inherent distinctive character and that that was the case throughout the European Union”.
Lindt declined to comment on the ruling beyond saying it had not yet reviewed the judgment in full.
But a spokesman added: “We have built the trademark over about 20 years to make it a very strong brand, and this is the reason we want to protect it.”