Market News & Analysis

Lindt wins legal battle over Haribo trademark claims

Germany's Federal Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli, following a challenger from German confectioner Haribo.

Haribo had sought to stop Lindt from making its gold chocolate bears, as it believed the design infringed on its intellectual property.

Lindt's gold bear is a chocolate bear wrapped in gold foil. The product was introduced in 2011. Haribo has a "Gold Bear" logo, which is associated with its bear-shaped fruit gum sweets, which the firm has been making since the 1960s.

In 2012, Haribo took its rival to court, saying that the products were too similar and risked causing confusion among consumers. Originally, a German court ruled in favour of Haribo, but an appeal court threw out the verdict.

Lindt argued that its gold bear was modelled after its gold Easter bunnies, which were first produced in 1952. These chocolate bunnies are wrapped in gold foil and have a ribbon with a small bell tied around their necks. 

Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled that Lindt's bear was not a violation of Haribo's trademark or an imitation of the fruit gum sweets, reports the BBC.

In a statement on Wednesday (September 23rd), the federal court said that LIndt's product could be described using a variety of terms – like "teddy" or "chocolate bear" – not just "gold bear".

It added that it wanted to avoid the danger of "product design monopolisation" in the area of three-dimensional goods.

Lindt said it welcomed the ruling, and believed its chocolate teddy would "continue to delight all Lindt chocolate lovers".

On Thursday morning in Switzerland, shares in Lindt were down 0.89 per cent to 68,505.00 points.

Chocolate trademarks

This wasn't the only recent ruling on sweet trademarks in recent news. Last week, the European Court of Justice turned down Nestle's request to trademark the shape of its KitKat bar in the UK.

The judges said that Nestle would need to demonstrate that the public relied on the shape of the chocolate fingers alone to identify them – they said this was difficult to prove since the chocolates also have the brand imprinted on them.

Nestle will be returning to the UK High Court for a final decision on the matter.

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