British candy maker Cadbury has been wrapping up its chocolates in a particular purple wrapper for more than 100 years. It was originally meant as a way of honoring Queen Victoria. The company felt so attached to that shade of the color that it registered it as a trademark back in 2008.
When it was granted, one of its main competitors, Nestlé, decided to put up a fight, which has gone on now for three years before ending when the registrar at the UK Intellectual Property Office decided that the Kraft-owned Cadbury was within its rights to ask for Pantone 2865c to be exclusively theirs for chocolate products and drinks.
If the trademark had been lifted, the Birmingham News reports that it would have “opened the floodgates for rivals, including supermarkets, to use the color on their own-brand chocolate bars.” Sweetening the sting of the ruling, Time.com notes that Nestle (and anyone else) can still use Pantone 2865c on any other products that they’d like.[more]
TIME also points out that “Experts say the decision is a ‘major relief’ for Cadbury” as it ensures that its products “will remain easily distinguished by children too young to read.”
“Cadbury first applied to patent the colour in 2004, although it was not approved for another four years,” notes the Independent. “Cadbury did try to stop the Australian confectioner Darrell Lea from using purple on its packaging. Three years ago, however, its complaint was rejected by the Federal Court in Melbourne.”
Intellectual Property Brief reports that there was a comparable case in the United States. “Hershey Co. recently dropped a lawsuit against Mars Inc. over the use of an orange background for which it holds a U.S. trademark,” the site notes, but then dropped the case.
“Colour registrations are notoriously difficult to obtain, largely because it can be difficult to prove sufficient use to demonstrate that the colour has become synonymous with the brand in the mind of the consumer,” British lawyer Fiona McBride commented on the Cadbury’s legal victory to the Independent.