The Chocolate Wars – Wrangle between Nestle & Cadbury on KitKat Shape TM

In this reigning retail world, even minor details of products that may bring major changes in the market, matter. In this current scenario every company wants to protect its identity through trade mark registrations. The whole story started in the year 2010 when Nestle applied to register trademark for its four-fingered chocolate – KitKat. Cadbury clashed with nestle in filing the trade mark for the KitKat shape. UK Registry of trade mark turned down the application by Nestle after hearing opposition from Cadbury in 2013. It is tough to see why Cadbury would want to stop Nestle from trademarking the four fingered shape of KitKat, as there are no similar rectangular fingered products made by Cadbury. It all seems to be a reciprocal war over minor details, one that is a persistence from a battle that ended in 2013 when Cadbury was refused a trademark over the use of the colour purple to package its chocolate.

Prior to the current case, there was another legal wrangle between the two giant chocolate makers regarding the registration of the colour purple as trade mark by Cadbury. But Nestle won the United Kingdom Court of Appeal ruling in October, 2013 blocking Cadbury from procuring a trade mark for the colour purple it uses to wrap its milk chocolate. After Nestle gridlocked Cadbury’s bid to trademark the colour purple used for its chocolate wrappers, the British unit of Mondelez International Inc. has turned the tables on its Swiss rival, opposing a similar effort by Nestle to protect the fingered shape of its KitKat bar. But Mondelez International Inc. owned Cadbury clashed with Nestle in EU’s top court.

Nestle succeeded in South Africa, where the Supreme Court favoured Nestle prohibiting IFFCO from selling fingered wafers which are similar to the KitKat two and four-finger shapes. However Judge KGB Swain added, “It is quite clear that the finger wafer shape trade marks in issue do not grant nestle a monopoly over trapezoidal chocolate bars”[1] But surprisingly Singapore Court struck down Nestle on KitKat Shape Trademark. In the year 2013 Nestle accused Petra Foods of overstepping its Singapore trade marks for two fingered and four fingered shapes with Delfi Take It bar. Singapore’s High Court ruled in Petra’s favour and accepted a counterclaim to annul Nestle’s Singaporean trade marks for the KitKat shape.

In this trademarked planet, even distinctive shapes of chocolate bars are a matter and companies are very cautious regarding every way and in making themselves equipped to beat the competitors.

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4

Contributed by Vishnumolakala Chandra Sekhar – Intern, BananaIP Counsels