The latest twist in a decade-long UK chocolate wars saga between Nestle and Cadbury is that Nestle failed in its attempt to trademark the shape of the famous four-fingered KitKat bar. In this long battle both have their fair share of ‘ha-ha’ and ‘oh-no’ moments.
Nestle believes that the shape is unique enough to be protected by law but judges have thrown out the attempt every time. Nestle first tried to trademark the shape of the four-fingered chocolate bar in 2010 but were opposed by Cadbury.
Kitkats were first snapped up by the public in 1935 by Rowntree – then it was called Chocolate Crisp. The case isn’t working because a similar Norwegian bar named Kvikk Lunsj (means quick lunch), has been around since 1937.
A spokesperson for Nestle said that the company was weighing its options. They said, “Nestle is disappointed by the Court of Appeal judgment and is considering next steps. KitKat is much loved around the world and its four-finger shape is well known by consumers. Nestle’s four-finger shape has been granted trademark registration in many countries of the world, for instance Germany, France, Australia, South Africa and Canada, further protecting it from imitations.”
Mondelez, Cadbury’s owner said , “We are pleased with the Court of Appeal’s decision today and welcome their conclusion. As we have previously stated, we do not believe the shape of the KitKat bar should be protected as a trademark in the UK.”
The European Court of Justice said that the company has to demonstrate that the public only relies on the shape to identify the snack. But Nestle has a history of registering difficult trademarks. It took them 40 years for them to register their slogan ‘Have a Break’ as trademark. They finally succeeded in 2006.
This ruling can lead to copycat versions of the bars hitting shelves, a practice some discount supermarkets have popularized. Aldi and Lidl have both been accused of selling their own-brand versions of other famous brands as well.