Lindt’s Gold Bunnies under Threat from EU Court of Justice
The famous Swiss Chocolate Manufacturing Company, Lindt & Sprungli has been in the chocolate business for quite a long time and are famous for their gold Easter bunnies. It has been a remarkable 60 years since these gold foiled rabbits are being produced and loved by the consumers. But it is just recently that these have come under a blow from the European Union’s Court of Justice. The European Union argues that Lindt cannot go establish the rabbit as a registered trademark because an Austrian rival firm called Hauswirth has been in the process of manufacturing them for over 50 years now. This rivalry has been going on since 2004 and now draws to a close with Lindt losing its rights to produce the Gold bunnies.
The Court of Justice passed their decision against Lindt and stated that Lindt’s Easter bunnies had failed to mark themselves as a distinct character that they could call their own. The Court also added that the character did not have any features that were unique in their own way that marked themselves different from the chocolates, Hauswirth was creating. The gold plating, shape, bell as well as the ribbon were entirely the same and give the same overall look which is why Lindt could not bring the court in its favor.
In the year 2000, Lindt went on to register the bunnies as their trademark and were proud to announce that their yearly sales of the product hiked up to about 60 million pieces. The executives and managers were highly possessive about the bunnies and stated in their defense, “Our bunny is magical, majestic even. We will protect it.” After this entire conflict, Lindt bunnies were all stamped with the logo of the company to create their distinct identity and tell them apart.
By 2004, Lindt had entered into a battle with Hauswirth who were one of the various European companies that were known to manufacture chocolate bunnies as part of their Easter traditions. It was also to be noted that almost all the companies had pretty much the same bunnies and many features highly resemble in all products. All of them had the same gold and silver plating with the same ribbon and bell and no traces of the company’s logo on it.
At the start of the case, Lindt’s lawyers found to get the color of Hauswirth’s bunnies be changed to a slightly difficult tone of gold, something like bronze and to change the ribbon’s shade to green and they were successful enough to have the court on their side. Initially, Hauswirth was told to make these changes and that it could not carry on with the gold plated chocolate bunnies. Hauswirth was however, adamant towards their decision and did not accept the proposal which is why it was ruled that they could not sell the bunnies in the interim.
The company further became furious when even the Austrian courts turned against them and pressurized them to either make the changes or stop the sale of the product. This gave hope to the managers at Lindt and they considered it to be the end of the conflict but they were proven wrong as of late. None of the two companies have chosen to comment so far.