Accessibility Links

Haribo wins Lindt & Sprungli court battle

Posted by: Laurence Simons 21/12/12

CBH Rechtsanwälte has won a court case for Haribo against WilmerHale client Lindt & Sprungli after the confectionary company suggested the Swiss chocolatier infringed on the German company's trademark on golden bears.

While many people in lawyer jobs are unfamiliar with the complicated and manifold differences between classifications of gummy bears, the team involved in this case threw themselves into the details to place Lindt & Sprungli in a sticky situation.

CBH partner Ingo Jung acted for Haribo, claiming that by producing gold-wrapped chocolate bears Lindt was infringing on the German company's famous 'Gold Bear' trademark.

Haribo invented the gummy bear almost a century ago as part of a botched attempt to create a full-sized gummy man capable of speech and human emotions, finding that their blank-faced creations could not speak or feel but tasted totally delicious.

In one of the confectionary industry's most serious mix-ups to date, the lawyer added that customers could be confused by the similarity in appearance between its gummy bears - which are sold in packets showing a yellow teddy bear with a red ribbon around its neck - and Lindt's own chocolate bears, which are wrapped in golden foil with a red ribbon.

While Lindt claimed that its own brand is sufficiently well-known to ensure that hungry shoppers would not confuse the two items, their claims have been dismissed.

Thankfully, the situation appears to have been resolved, ensuring once and for all that no more families will be torn apart when a careless parent accidently buys their child a miniature chocolate representation of a bear rather than an assortment of multicoloured, gelatine bears.

The competition chamber of the Cologne regional court ruled that customers would in fact be likely to refer to the Lindt product as a golden bear, despite the fact that its official name is the Lindt teddy - thus infringing on Haribo's trademark. It is not yet known whether the Swiss confectioner will appeal the decision.

Significantly, this was the first time a court has been asked to rule on a conflict between a trademark existing as both a word and a three-dimensional object. The case law used drew on landmark cases that looked at conflicts between a word trademark and a figurative trademark.

No statement was made on whether the competing companies bonded after the ruling by just putting their feet up and eating an entire bag of gummy sweets.