Monday, 7 October 2013

No Cadbury trademark for Dairy Milk purple

Colour really counts: Consumers often recognise products by the distinctive packaging or labelling colours. Over time, a certain colour comes to be closely associated with the brand and individual branded products. Cadbury has been wrapping its milk chocolate bars in purple packaging since 1905, so when it applied to trademark the colour in 2004, that tradition seemed in the brand's favour.

In 2008, rival chocolatier Nestle contested the trademark, starting a legal battle that appears to be over--for now. Last year, Cadbury prevailed in court. Last week, however, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that Cadbury cannot have the trademark because the application 'required clarity, precision, self containment, durability and objectivity to qualify for registration'.

The result is that Cadbury is not able to have exclusive use of this purple colour for milk chocolate bars or any other product. However, it still retains the legal right to prevent competitors from copying its trade dress (the visual appearance of a product, including its shape and the colour of packaging) in an attempt to 'pass off their products as Cadbury chocolate', as the company notes in a statement.

Cadbury has the option of appealing through EU legal channels. Or it may reapply for trademark protection with more specific language.