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Sweet success for Lindt in copyright battle with Haribo

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 24 September 2015

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After a number of differing decisions through the appeal routes, a conclusion has been established in the dispute between Lindt and Haribo over the famous Swiss chocolate gold foil covered bear and Haribo’s Gold Bears word mark for their gummy sweets.

The court has made the decision that the chocolate bear was not a copy of Haribo’s mark.

Haribo’s argument was that shoppers and potential consumers would have confusion between the two products as the two visual representatives for them are both a gold/yellow bear with a red ribbon around its neck.

However, Lindt dismissed this by stating that the bears are variants of an Easter bunny chocolate.

The German regional court at first instance favoured Haribo which lead to a ban of future sales of Lindt bears in 2012, however this was overturned on appeal, citing no evidence of confusion.

The issue was brought to a close with a final decision made by the federal court which stated “Lindt’s sale of bear-shaped chocolates wrapped in a golden foil with a red ribbon is neither a violation of Haribo’s Gold Bear trademark nor an illegal imitation of the fruit-gum products.”

The key point to focus on when looking at the reasons for this decision was what was actually being compared. Lindt’s mark was a 3d shape of a bear made in chocolate whereas Haribo’s mark was a word mark of GOLDBEAR. The comparison should not have been made using the visual of any product sold under the GOLDBEAR mark.

In light of this, the decision made is a clear one as it can be seen that there is no confusion between the two marks. Lindt’s mark would not naturally be described as a GOLDBEAR but more likely a gold teddy, or chocolate bear. This highlights there would be very little confusion from consumers between the products.

If you'd like to know more about this article please send an email to Ellis Sweetenham quoting the article title and any questions you might have, alternatively call the office number on 02380 235 979 or send an enquiry through our contact form.

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