Kit Kat Loses Rights For Its Iconic Chocolate Bar Design To Rivals Like Cadbury
For nearly two decades, Kit Kat envisioned wrapping its four fingers around the chocolate industry. Now, it has to loosen its grip.
The chocolate bar’s maker, Nestlé, has just been denied its 16-year-long appeal to trademark its iconic four-fingered shape by the European Court of Justice, making it acceptable for rivals to produce their own ‘Kit Kat’ lookalikes.
The verdict comes of benefit to direct competitor Cadbury, which fiercely contested Nestlé’s attempts to trademark the four-fingered bar. Cadbury is owned by Mondelez, and the latter makes a similar chocolate bar called ‘Kvikk Lunsj’ (pronounced “quick lunch”).
Just two years after ‘Kit Kat’—formerly known as ‘Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp’—reached the masses in 1935, Mondelez debuted ‘Kvikk Lunsj’. For the most part, the two chocolate brands had a relatively peaceful relationship—until Nestlé decided to defend its ‘Kit Kat’ shape in 2002.
Interestingly, Nestlé was approved of the rights to the ‘Kit Kat’ shape in 2006, but the decision was retracted, and then it flung back and forth.
In 2016, a lower EU court ordered that if Nestlé wanted ownership of the design, it had to prove that ‘Kit Kat’ was recognizable in all EU countries. No evidence was available for Belgium, Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, reported the BBC.
Nestlé, Mondelez, and even the European trademark office weren’t receptive to the decision.
Nestlé debated that if it had to prove that the four-fingered chocolate bar shape was synonymously ‘Kit Kat’ in all states, then no brand would be able to pass the standard.
Mondelez, on the other hand, rebutted that ‘Kit Kat’ did not have “distinctive character” anywhere.
The top court eventually ruled on Wednesday that proving a product’s distinctiveness in “a significant part” of the EU wasn’t enough—it had to be recognized by all markets.
In spite of the ‘Kit Kat’ slogan, Nestlé is not going to have a break. A spokesperson responded that the verdict was, “not the end of the case… We think the evidence proves that the familiar shape of our iconic four-finger ‘Kit Kat’ is distinctive enough to be registered as an EU trademark.”
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