Nestle's Kit Kat Wins European Trademark Case
January 03, 2013 - News
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EUROPE — European regulators have found the shape of the 77-year-old Kit Kat chocolate bar is unique in a victory for Nestle.

In a European-wide ruling, the board of appeal at the Community Trade Mark Office reinstated a trademark on the Kit Kat, The Telegraph reported, stopping rivals from producing similar products. Rival chocolate brands will not be able to sell sweets, bakery products and biscuits in four-fingered shapes like the Kit Kat, The United Kingdom magazine, Marketing, wrote.

In 2006, Nestle registered the shape of the Kit Kat as a trademark but its rival Cadbury won an appeal invalidating the registration, The Telegraph explained. Nestle has prevailed in the latest round of appeals and Cadbury must decide whether it wants to challenge the decision.

"The Board of Appeal confirmed that Nestlé’s above-mentioned trade mark had acquired a distinctive character through its long and intensive use in a substantial part of European Union," the company said in a statement. "Additionally, the Board of Appeal confirmed that Nestlé’s trade mark did not fall foul of the technical function exclusions in the trade mark legislation."

The original four-finger Kit Kat bar was introduced in 1935 and has roots dating back to the 1920s when Rowntree — the UK confectionery business now owned by Nestle  —introduced a brand of boxed chocolates called "Kit Cat". Nestle, which celebrated Kit Kat's 75th birthday in October 2010, has said 150 Kit Kat bars are eaten worldwide every second.

"It is possible to register shapes as trade marks under certain circumstances and in the mind of the consumer the four-fingered shape of the Kit Kat chocolate bar has become synonymous with the Nestle's product," Marisa Broughton, a trademark lawyer at intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, said in the Telegraph article. "This is a significant win for Nestle."

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