One of the longest running trade mark disputes of recent years has been between confectionery giants Cadbury and Nestle and it actually has involved different tit for tat type disputes designed to disrupt each other as much as possible. The two most well-known of the disputes was Cadbury opposing a Nestle application for a four fingered biscuit and Nestle opposing a trade mark application from Cadbury for the colour purple.
Cadburys original applications for the colour purple were rejected and they appealed this decision. The dispute between Nestle and Cadbury settled before the appeal was heard however the appeal still went ahead in order that the Court could provide guidance on the circumstances when colour can be registered as a trade mark. Of the two applications that were appealed to the Court Cadbury failed on one and succeeded on the other.
The main takeaway from this, and the reason Cadbury were successful on one application but not the other, is that if you are applying for a colour trade mark you must clearly state how it is going to be applied to the goods in question. In addition to this the Court judgment gives other useful guidance on how to successfully apply for a colour trade mark. The most important of these is a reminder that trade marks are meant to be signs that convey messages to consumers and so any colour application must be capable of acting as a sign that conveys a message. In reality this means it is likely that only well-known colour signs would be accepted as registrations.
This judgment brings an end to one of the most bitterly fought IP disputes and will be a sweet result for Cadbury. Though colour marks are not going to be relevant to the majority of the businesses this judgment does provide very useful guidance which would also be very helpful if a business is accused of infringing a colour mark.
If you have any questions arising from this please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000.in: Case Law, Companies, Consumer Law, EU/International, Legal News, News, Trade Marks