Easter Bunnies, Trade-Marks and Chocolate
12 years after Lindt first complained that competitors were seeking to sell confectionary confusingly close to their iconic bunnies (crinkled gold foil with red bows) a German regional court (Frankenfurt Oberlandesgerichts )has ruled that the current iteration of the competitor’s bunny (solid gold painted bunnies with a painted brown bow) would not confuse the average consumer and thus did not infringe Lindt’s trade mark rights. (for images of the respective rabbits see the report in the German media here http://www.t-online.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/id_62762938/lindt-spruengli-kassiert-endgueltige-schlappe-im-goldhasen-streit.html)
This decision is just one in a long line of battles fought by Lindt to protect their brand and strengthen there market position. Lindt’s results to date have been mixed, with this loss here, and an earlier loss before The General Court of the European Union, but wins in Austria and Belgium.
Whenever a trade mark owner engages in long term concerted enforcement actions such as there may be losses along the way, but win or loose demonstrating a willingness to protect your brand can send a strong signal to potential competitors. Repeatedly defining the perimeters of your trade mark rights through litigation (or preferably negotiated licenses) can be essential to maintaining a unique position in a crowded market place.