Nestle Just Lost a 16-Year Legal Battle Over the Shape of Kit Kats
Nestlé has been trying to trademark Kit-Kat bars' signature four-fingered shape forever—16 years, to be exact—and now the European Court of Justice has thrown out the latest appeal by the Swiss food company to establish rights to the treat's design, the BBC reports.
The decision comes as good news to rival candymaker Cadbury, who fought hard against Nestlé's trademarking attempts. Some backstory: Cadbury's parent company, Mondelez, also produces a Norwegian chocolate bar called Kvikk Lunsj (pronounced "quick lunch"), which is almost identical to the Kit Kat. While Kvikk Lunsj made its debut in 1937—two years after the Kit Kat—the two candy bars lived in relative harmony until 2002, when all of this legal drama began.
If this story sounds familiar it's because...it is. The Kit Kat's shape was actually trademarked back in 2006 (after four years of back-and-fourth), and then the decision was reversed (and subsequently reinstated) in appeal after appeal (the case made headlines last year, too).
But in order to win Europe-wide protection on the Kit Kat this time around, Nestlé would have had to prove that the product had become iconic in "a significant part" of the EU—a standard that's extremely difficult to reach. The trademark still exists on a national level in some European countries, though—including France, Germany, Spain, and Italy—as well as Australia, South Africa, and Canada.
Of course, this latest ruling opens the door for Kit Kat imitators...and Nestlé (still) isn't going down without a fight. A representative said this was "not the end of the case," adding, again, "We think the evidence proves that the familiar shape of our iconic four-finger Kit Kat is distinctive enough to be registered as an EU trademark."
The good news: The fact that Nestlé has been embroiled in a neverending court case hasn't stopped them from coming up with exciting new Kit Kats. One of the latest to pique our interest: The Ruby Kit Kat, made with a new type of pink (!) chocolate, developed from the ruby cocoa bean (no berries, berry flavor, or color are added).