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Complexities Of Trademark Law ‘Emphasised By Cadbury’s Purple Battle’

Nestle Win Appeal Over Use Of Specific Pantone


The latest developments in the long-running trademark case related to ‘Cadbury’s purple’ have once again highlighted how complex this specific area of law is, according to a legal specialist at Irwin Mitchell.

The Court of Appeal has ruled in Nestle’s favour regarding the ongoing dispute with Cadbury the latter’s efforts to trademark Pantone 2865c, the shade of purple frequently associated with Dairy Milk products.

Nestle’s dispute with Cadbury over the colour first began in 2008 and in the latest round Nestle has been successful.  It has succeeded on the basis that the wording in the trade mark application was not clear enough.

Commenting on the issue, Joanne Bone, a Partner and expert in trademark infringement issues at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “One thing which businesses can take from this is that it is crucial to get the wording of your trade mark applications correct as any uncertainty in the wording can mean that you lose protection.  A lot of businesses do not see the point in paying experts to draft applications, but it is important to get it right if you want it to stand.

“The case has also once again emphasised the complexities regarding the issue of ‘colour marks’ and the difficulties related to them.

“One of the most difficult issues is how close an organisation can get to a shade which is protected before it is an  infringement – essentially, does ownership over a single pantone mean a company also has further rights over similar shades.

“In this case, the courts have decided that Cadbury had not made the scope of the protection for its colour clear enough. It will be interesting to see what the next step in this long-running legal battle proves to be.”