Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT:US)’s Cadbury unit won a trademark case brought by Nestle SA (NESN) over purple packaging for chocolate, after a London judge found the color was distinctive to the maker of Dairy Milk bars.
Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, challenged a trademark ruling from December 2011 covering chocolate bars and drinks, saying a color shouldn’t be protected.
“The evidence clearly supports a finding that purple is distinctive of Cadbury for milk chocolate,” Judge Colin Birss wrote in rejecting Nestle’s appeal. Cadbury has used purple for its Dairy Milk bars since 1914, he said in today’s ruling.
Kraft became the world’s largest producer of chocolate candy when it bought Cadbury, based in the London suburb of Uxbridge, in 2010. The company had a 20.2 percent share of the western Europe chocolate confectionery market in 2011, according to Bloomberg Industries data. Nestle, which makes KitKat and Baby Ruth bars, has a 11.1 percent market share for the region.
The dispute dates back to 2008, when Vevey, Switzerland- based Nestle opposed Cadbury’s initial application for a color trademark.
Today’s decision is a partial victory for Nestle as it “protects our brands by further limiting the range of goods for which Cadbury’s application may be registered,” Nestle spokesman James Maxton said in an e-mailed statement.
Judge Birss said the trademark wouldn’t apply to boxes of chocolates, or other products such as white or dark chocolate. “In my judgment it would not be right to say that the color purple is distinctive of chocolate generally.”
Cadbury said that the ruling “allows us to register as a trademark and protect our famous color purple across a range of milk chocolate products.”
The “color purple has been linked with Cadbury for more than a century and the British public have grown up understanding its link with our chocolate,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
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