Thursday, 28 March 2013
Beautifully timed just before Easter, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichthof, case reference I ZR 72/12) has today delivered some bad news to Swiss confectioner Lindt & Sprüngli in one of the longest-running gold bunny trade mark battles: a defeat in the 12 year dispute between Lindt and its German competitor Riegelein.
According to German media reports (here and here), Germany’s highest court in civil matters refused to grant Lindt’s final appeal against a decision by the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt (Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt), which in 2011 had held that there was no likelihood of confusion between Lindt’s famous chocolate bunny (right above) and Riegelein’s slightly more bronze coloured bunny (left above).
Now, if this post looks familiar to you and reading it feels like a déjà vu experience then you will not be surprised to learn that this is already the third time the Bundesgerichtshof has decided in this dispute. This time it appears - from the media reports so far available - the court only had to decide a procedural point: Lindt’s “Nichtzulassungsbeschwerde” - that is whether the lower court rightfully refused a further appeal to its last decision in this matter. The Frankfurt court's decision is thus now final.
Initial reports state that Riegelein feels that “justice has been done” and Lindt is “very, very disappointed”.
It is now for German consumers to decide which bunny they prefer – if they can see a difference that is.