The German Supreme Court (BGH) today ruled in favor of Confiserie Riegeleinof after Lindt had contended that its trademark for a 3D seated gold chocolate bunny was infringed.
This comes after successive appeals from Lindt over a number of years.
Confiserie Riegelein: We didn’t bow to pressure
Peter Riegelein, managing partner of German firm Confiserie Riegelein said that “justice has prevailed in this case ". [German translation]
He said that a seated rabbit in gold foil had been part of his company’s range for half a century, as it had been for many companies.
“While many, especially small providers bow to the pressure of the Swiss group, and their products had to withdraw from the market, Confiserie Riegelein continued to resist,” he said.
Lindt, which has sold the gold bunny since 1952, had previously appealed four earlier decisions all finding in favor of Confiserie Riegelein.
Lindt accepts decision but will continue to defend Lindt Goldbunny
Nina Keller, corporate communications for Lindt, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “Lindt & Sprüngli has taken note of the definite decision of the BGH and will of course respect it even though we do not share the judicial interpretation.
“Based on the high brand awareness and the uniqueness of the Lindt Goldbunny that has been built up over the past decades with great efforts as well as to secure the best possible protection for our trade mark against competitors, we will continue to defend our Lindt Goldbunny in the future whenever necessary.”
The Swiss chocolatier is not unfamiliar with bunny legal battles having fought a similar trademark row against Austrian confectioner Hauswirth, a company that also manufactured sitting gold chocolate bunnies with red neckties.
After eight years of legal wrangling, an Austrian court ruled last year that Hauswirth had to change the appearance of its rabbits.
In 2012, the European Court of Justice refused to register Lindt’s 3D-bunny-sign as an EU trademark because it was devoid of any distinctive character.
Lindt’s bunny trademark is registered in 15 out of 25 EU member states.
Haribo bear battle
Lindt is also contending with a trademark infringement case brought by Haribo in Germany, which is set to rumble on all the way to the Supreme Court.
Haribo alleges that Lindt has infringed its patent on ‘Gold Bear’ by introducing a chocolate product called ‘Teddy’ in November last year that uses gold packaging.