The swiss chocolate manufacturer lindt& sprungli defeated bavarian confectioner riegelein at the federal court of justice (BGH). The lindt company had taken action against the gold bunny from bavaria, which they considered too similar. In a decision published in karlsruhe, the german federal court of justice (BGH) rejected a renewed appeal for non-admission by lindt. This finally draws a line under the legal dispute.
"We are very, very disappointed, but we have to accept the decision," a lindt spokeswoman told the dpa news agency. "This is the end of this dispute in germany," she said. However, this will not stop the federation’s sub-product producer from continuing to crack down on imitators if necessary. Finally, the lindt golden bunny with the red ribbon is protected by trademark law as an eu trademark and in individual countries.
This not only pissed off the confectionery company riegelein from cadolzburg in france: "lindt is by no means the inventor of the gold bunny. Sitting, sideways looking chocolate bunnies in gold foil
have a long history," emphasized the managing partner of the confectionery company, peter riegelein.
"Justice has prevailed in this case," riegelein is convinced. Ever since lindt first tried to protect the gold bunny in germany more than ten years ago, the company has repeatedly tried to get a court ruling banning the production and sale of sitting, sideways-looking chocolate bunnies wrapped in gold foil by competitors. This is a time-honored form that has been used by numerous manufacturers since the 1950s.
The confectioner is also happy about the court’s decision shortly before easter because its sitting golden bunny, which differs from its lindt counterpart by a darker golden hue and a painted brown bow, has been a fixed part of our assortment for "a good half century". Riegelein lawyer daniel terheggen sees a "precedent in trademark law decided".
But other countries, other customs: in austria, lindt prevailed a year ago. There, the supreme court in vienna ruled that the austrian family business hauswirth could no longer sell its gold-packed rabbit because of the risk of confusion with its younger lindt colleague.
When you’ve built a strong brand, you have to protect it, lindt argues. The bunny with the red ribbon, which is made in aachen, is sold in more than 60 countries worldwide.
For this easter alone, 150 million copies were produced – from the tiny mini-rabbits to the ones with bells and the one-kilo chocolates.