(CN) – European chocolatiers cannot trademark rabbit-, mice- and bell-shaped confections, even decorated with red ribbons, since the shapes “are devoid of any distinctive character,” the General Court of the European Union ruled.
Lindt & Sprüngli, of Switzerland, had applied in 2004 and 2005 to register the 3-D shapes of red, gold and brown chocolate rabbits, reindeers and bells, tied with red ribbons. In June 2005, the German-based August Storck tried to trademark the image of a mouse etched onto a chocolate block.
The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market between denied their requests on the grounds that the shapes of the chocolates they wanted to trademark lacked distinctive character.
The EU’s General Court found that decorating chocolate animals or their wrapping with ribbons and bells is common, and confectioners often mold chocolate into the requested animal shapes at Easter and Christmas.
The court dismissed the company’s actions and upheld the trademark body’s refusal to register the applied marks.