Confectionary company wins lengthy battle to protect distinctive colour it uses to market its milk chocolate
Christian Louboutin has secured the trademark for the distinctive red used on the soles of shoes he designs, and the retailer Harrods has a trademark over the shade of green synonymous with its brand. Now confectionery giant Cadbury has won a lengthy court battle giving it the right to the trademark for the distinctive colour of purple it uses for the packaging of its milk chocolate.
The UK-based chocolate company – acquired by the food business Kraft in 2010 – applied for the trademark in October 2004, registering its right to use the colour purple (Pantone 2685c). But its rival Nestlé argued that colours could not be practically trademarked for commercial advantage.
Rejecting Nestle’s appeal, Judge Colin Birss said in the high court in London: “The evidence clearly supports a finding that purple is distinctive of Cadbury for milk chocolate.”
He noted in his ruling that Cadbury has used purple for its Dairy Milk bars since 1914.
The ruling means that the particular shade of purple is now specific to milk chocolate bars and tablets, milk chocolate for eating, and also drinking chocolate.
Cadbury said in a statement: “We welcome the decision of the high court which allows us to register as a trade mark and protect our famous colour purple across a range of milk chocolate products. Our colour purple has been linked with Cadbury for more than a century and the British public have grown up understanding its link with our chocolate.”
Paul Medlicott, head of FMCG at law firm Addleshaw Goddard, commented: “Trademarks of names and logos are familiar to most businesses, but the high court’s ruling in favour of Cadbury shows the increasing importance of colour trademarks. Cadbury sought to, and has succeeded in, trademarking its distinctive purple colour used in relation to its products. It is now able to prevent its competitors using that same colour. The challenge faced by Cadbury in getting the colour registered as a trademark is evident when you see that their trademark application was first filed in 2004.”
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