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Sunday, 23 April 2006

BATTLE OF THE BUNNIES



Battle of the bunnies: an expert writes ...

Last week the IPKat reported on the chocolate bunny battle between Swiss chocolatier Lindt and their German rivals Hauswirth. A friendly mole whose command of the German language exceeds that of the IPKat reports:

"According to Kurier.at (10 April, 2006), an Austrian lournal and also ORF (the Austrian broadcasting agency: burgenland.orf.at/stories/99729/ - 22k), an interim decision was rendered by the Austrian Supreme Court. The court decided that Hauswith's sitting rabbit would not be confused with Lindt’s rabbit. Thus Hauswith was allowed to sell the rabbits this year (last year they gave them for free as they could not be sold!).

Comment : For better understanding of the background of this legal battle it has to be added that, in Austria, Easter rabbits are very common. Consumers would not therefore easily confuse one rabbit with another (as may be the case in other countries like Denmark, where Easter rabbits are uncommon). The shape of a sitting rabbit cannot be monopolised therefore by any one undertaking.

“Red” (red ribbon) is a typical colour in the context of Easter. It is not only rabbits that have red accessories, such as red ribbons. Easter lambs together with a red flag, symbolising the victory of Christ) have a long tradition. The recent decision of the Austria Supreme Court seems therefore quite reasonable: www.luther-in-bs.dewww.talbaeckerei-ehrke.de

According to Kurier.at, Lindt lost a similar case at first instance in Germany. In Poland, however, Lindt succeeded and the competitor’s Easter rabbits had to be taken off the shelves. The article concludes: Where will the battle end? “At sea and at court You are in God’s hands”, so Roman Hauswirth.

Although the article in the Austrian journal does not mention it expressly, the earlier right is most likely Community trade mark No 1 698 855. At least this was the earlier right invoked in the previous Austrian case 4Ob239/04g, 30 November 2004 (see www.bdr.at/files/dedown/down95_4.pdf)".

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