Hands off our legendary brand – Godiva takes legal aim at pub

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Godiva takes legal aim at Lady Godiva pub

Related tags Trademark

Belgian chocolate maker Godiva has challenged a Swiss pub over its use of a “confusingly similar” image and name to its own, but says other references to the legend of Lady Godiva are safe.

The company takes its trademark registered-name from the legend of Lady Godiva – who was said to have rode naked though the streets of the English city of Coventry in protest against the taxes imposed by her land-owning husband on tenants in the 11th century.

According to a report from the BBC, residents and event organisers in Coventry were concerned that local pubs and its festival would be next on the list after hearing of the premium chocolatiers dispute with the Lady Godiva pub in Geneva, Switzerland.

But a spokesperson for the company owned by Turkish conglomerate Yildiz Holding told ConfectioneryNews that it wanted to clear the air and reassure establishments in and around Coventry that it had never wished to challenge them on their use of the name.

“The legend of Lady Godiva has already taken its rightful place in history and we are as respectful as anyone of Coventry’s close association with it.”

However the firm confirmed it had taken issue with the bar in Geneva. “A business there has chosen to use branding and visual presentation so confusingly similar to that of our own Godiva stores and cafés as to be misleading to customers and damaging to our business.” 

We take trademark exploitation seriously

It said it was serious about protecting its brand from businesses it believed were exploiting its trademarks. 

"Those trademarks relate to the name and imagery where it is relevant to and closely associated with our business. When we think that there is a potential for confusion or association, we take reasonable steps to inform people of our intellectual property rights and ask them to respect them. That's what we're doing in this case.”

At one with Coventry
The company – which now distributes to 80 countries through boutiques, global travel retail locations, department and speciality stores and online – was created by the Brussels-based Draps family in 1926. In more recent history, Yildiz Holding acquired Godiva for $850m in 2008 from the Campbell Soup Company.

Since then, sales have reportedly grown 10% a year for the Godiva business, reaching $765m in 2013.

According to the company, the family choose the name for the “passion, boldness and generosity”​ of Lady Godiva.

On the wider subject of Lady Godiva herself, we are at one with the people of Coventry and indeed any business that seeks to celebrate her remarkable spirit and generosity as Godiva has done for almost 90 years.”

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