Lindt wins Gold Bunny trademark stoush

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th April 2011

Lindt gold bunnyChocolate giant Lindt & Sprüngli has won its trademark dispute with Austrian company Franz Hauswirth GmbH, with the Vienna Commercial Court ruling that Hauswirth must stop producing and selling its Easter bunny, which is wrapped in gold foil and carries a red or red-white-red ribbon.

The Court confirmed that there is a risk of confusion with the ‘Gold Bunny’ trademark of Lindt & Sprüngli, which the company registered as an EU three-dimensional Community Trademark in 2000.

“The ‘Gold Bunny’ is one of our most important products. We are very pleased with this ruling by the Vienna Commercial Court because it confirms our view that Hauswirth has infringed our trademark rights,’ commented Adalbert Lechner, Managing Director of Lindt & Sprüngli’s German subsidiary, which covers the Austrian and German markets.

Lindt & Sprungli said the court’s decision refuted claims by Hauswirth that it had registered its trademark ‘in bad faith’ and that its sole aim was to obstruct competitors and force them off the market.

Lindt & Sprüngli emphasized that the proceedings are not about enforcing claims for damages or squeezing other chocolate Easter bunnies out of the market, but that it “only acts against competitors whose chocolate Easter bunnies are confusingly similar to the ‘Gold Bunny’ since customers are misled by them.”

“First and foremost, we wish to guard our trademark rights, in other words the special nature and shape of our chocolate Easter bunnies. Of course, competitors are now as before entitled to sell chocolate bunnies that are sufficiently different from ours.”

Lindt & Sprüngli has been making the ‘Gold Bunny’ product since 1952, and it has been on sale in Austria since 1994.

Lindt & Sprungli has a similar case pending in Germany against Hans Riegelein, with the German Federal Supreme Court recently overturning a ruling of no risk of confusion by the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court, and the case now referred back to the lower court. Oral proceedings in the Frankfurt court are expected for the fall of 2011.