In a much-reported dispute over the alleged infringement of Haribo’s “Goldbären” (“Gold-Bears”) trademark, the court of appeal in Cologne ruled today that the word mark does not present an obstacle to Lindt’s gold-wrapped “Teddys” and thus that Haribo’s trademark rights are not infringed. This is an important victory not only for Lindt, but also for the IP firm of Eisenfuhr Speiser, which represents Lindt in this fundamental dispute as patent and trademark attorneys in cooperation with WilmerHale.
Bremen, 11.04.2014 Two bears have been keeping Germany’s trademark lawyers busy since 2011. Haribo, the German confectionery producer, brought an action against Lindt, the Swiss maker of premium chocolates, before the District Court in Cologne. The case centred on Lindt’s ”Teddy”, a chocolate bear wrapped in gold foil. According to Haribo, the three-dimensional product design constituted an infringement of its registered “Goldbären” (“Gold-Bears”) word mark.
This was the first time that the jurisdiction of the German courts had been invoked in a case involving a collision between a word mark and a three-dimensional product design. The District Court in Cologne was on novel territory and ruled in favour of Haribo in the first instance, stating that Lindt’s Teddy was a visual representation of the word mark and resembled it so much that there was a likelihood of confusion.
The tables have now been turned in the appeal instance, however. The Lindt team, joined by acknowledged trademark experts Rainer Böhm and Günther Eisenfuhr, were able to convince the Upper District Court in Cologne that the targeted publics did not believe that the golden chocolate bear originated from Haribo. The court acquitted Lindt of any infringement of trademark rights.
As agreed beforehand by Haribo and Lindt, the case will now be referred to the Federal Court of Justice for a supreme court ruling providing legal certainty on the fundamental issue of a collision between different kinds of trademark.
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