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Mars and Mondelez wage M&M's trademark war in Sweden

By Oliver Nieburg+

10-Sep-2013
Last updated the 10-Sep-2013 at 13:14 GMT

Mars and Kraft Foods Sverige at loggerheads over the letter M
Mars and Kraft Foods Sverige at loggerheads over the letter M

Mars and Mondelez International’s Swedish subsidiary Kraft Foods Sverige hope to take their M&M's trademark dispute to the highest court in Sweden.

Kraft wants authorities to cancel Mars’ trademark for M&M’s as it allegedly infringes its trademark for ‘M’ – one of its chocolate covered peanut products under the Marabou brand. Mars in turn wants the M trademark annulled.

Appeal to Supreme Court: A matter of law

In late June this year, the Swedish Court of Appeal in Stockholm annulled much of Mars’ Swedish trademark for M&M’s, but also upheld an earlier decision to cancel Kraft’s trademark for M entirely.

Both parties have now appealed to the Supreme Court in Sweden.

Judge Referee to the Supreme Court, Johan Klefbäck, told ConfectioneryNews that he would recommend whether the court should take the case in the next six months.

“The Supreme Court doesn’t care if the Court of Appeal got the case right or not, it wants to know if there are any holes in the law to address.”

Mars hopes to reclaim the parts of its M&M’s trademark lost in earlier cases, while it is likely that Kraft is only appealing for lawyer costs after a partial victory in the Court of Appeal.

District Court: Case originally brought by Kraft

The case began in the Swedish District Court in September 2009 when Kraft sued Mars for allegedly  infringing its 1993 trademark for M by marketing and selling M&M’s. It sought to annul Mars’ M&M's trademark, which was registered in 2000.

Mars counter-sued in January 2010 to have Kraft’s M trademark declared invalid.

The District Court decided to cancel part of the goods covered by Mars’ M&M's trademark, while Kraft’s M trademark was declared entirely invalid.

Court of Appeal decision

Kraft appealed the case but the Court of Appeal this summer decided that the District Court was right to cancel Kraft’s M mark because it had not made proper use of it.

The Court of Appeal also annulled more of Mars’ M&M's trademark so that it no longer covered non-medical confectionery, pralines and chocolate.

Mars was ordered to pay SEK 346,720 ($53,933) of Kraft’s legal costs from the District Court and Court of Appeal cases, while Kraft had to burden SEK 81,833 ($12,493) of Mars’ costs.

Both parties have attempted to appeal and have until 26 September to submit additional grounds for appeal to the Supreme Court.

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