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US confectioner settles over mimicking of gummi bear packaging

By Helen Glaberson , 07-Mar-2011

German confectioner Mederer has agreed to a redesign its gummi bear bags following on from the withdrawal of a lawsuit against the company by US gummi bear maker Farley's & Sathers (F&S).

The US firm issued the suit in October 2010, claiming Mederer’s gummi snack bags used the same colours, layout and lettering as on the packaging of its gummi bear brand – Trolli – and that the German confectioner, in this way, intended to confuse buyers of its product.

A spokesperson for Mederer told ConfectioneryNews.com that the case “has been settled by an agreement between both parties.”

Filed in Minneapolis’ US District Court, F&S’ trade lawsuit accused Mederer and MSE of trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition and deceptive and unlawful trade practices, reported the Minneapolis ST Paul Business Journal

However, the US firm did not develop the gummi bear brand. It was Mederer in 1981 that introduced Trolli and made its bears and worms at a facility in Iowa.

The German company still produces the confectionery elsewhere in the world, but sold the North American rights to the brand in 1997. F&S bought the brand from Chicago-based Wrigley in 2005.

Trademark battles

Lindt, Storck, Hershey and Mars have also been in court regarding trademark cases over the past year.

November 2010 saw the Hershey Company suing Mars for allegedly mimicking the packaging design of its Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups by using a similar orange colour and pack design for Dove peanut butter milk chocolate Promises.

Hershey claimed that a new packaging design for Mars’ peanut butter milk chocolate Promises, which features an orange diagonal wave against a brown background, constitutes trademark infringement and dilution, and unfair competition.

However, Mars claimed in a preemptive suit that Hershey had previously admitted that it does not have exclusive rights to use the colour orange for peanut butter candy and that orange is commonly used in the confectionery industry as a generic flavour indicator for peanut butter.
Swiss chocolate maker Lindt and German confectioner August Storck challenged a ruling of the EU's trademark office in December last year that the designs of several of their chocolate shapes and ornaments were not unique before the EU General Court.

However, that court ruled that the various chocolate designs were not unique enough for a consumer to be able to identify each chocolate's brand based on the shape alone.

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