Nestlé Can’t Catch a Break in Kit Kat Trademark Case

The world’s biggest food group is unable to trademark Kit Kat's design, a court has ruled

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Kit Kat's unique shape wasn't enough to win its parent company a trademark ruling.

Nestlé’s attempt to trademark the design of their popular Kit Kat bar took a big hit earlier this month. 

The confectionary giant argued that the four-fingered chocolate bars’ shape and “snap” function had become synonymous with the Kit Kat bar, citing a survey in which 90 percent of people shown a generic four-fingered chocolate bar claimed it was a Kit Kat bar, but the advocate general of the European court of justice ruled against this evidence and claimed Nestlé’s trademark attempt didn’t apply to EU law. This ruling opens the door for competitors to produce chocolate bars in similar designs.

“This is not a serious case about monopolizing shapes at all,” explained Nestlé’s lawyer, Simon Malynicz, to EU judges. Instead, as he put it, it is about a chocolate bar that is “highly recognizable and much loved in the U.K.” 

The staunchest opponent against Nestlé through the trademark battle has been its rival company, Cadbury. A few years ago, Nestlé blocked Cadbury’s attempt to trademark a certain shade of purple used in its chocolate bar wrapper, and many consider the most recent ruling another chapter in Nestlé and Cadbury’s continuing battle. 

The Kit Kat bar, created in 1935, is extremely popular around the world, with annual sales of $198.8 million in the United States alone. 

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