Mars brought civil action against Hershey in a district court in Virginia in April last year. It accused Hershey of ‘tricking consumers with fake maltesers’ through the Pennsylvanian firm’s Malteser (singular) brand.
Hershey counterclaimed in May last year. It said Mars had infringed Hershey’s sublicensed Malteser trademark and called for an injunction to pull Mars’ Maltesers from US shelves.
Hershey’s head of corporate communications Jeff Beckman said: “The matter was settled amicably, and Hershey and Mars have both dropped suits against each other related to the Malteser brand."
Anthony Guerrieri, director of external affairs at Mars Chocolate North America, said: “The Maltesers trademark lawsuit has been resolved amicably, and we are satisfied with the outcome.”
We asked both parties how the agreement would affect distribution of the brands, but the companies said details were confidential.
Malt ball history
Mars said it created its chocolate-covered malt ball candy in 1936 and branded it Maltesers. It adopted red packaging in 1978, but never registered a US trademark for the brand.
Hershey said that Leaf Brands won a US trademark for Malteser in 1963. It said that Leaf assigned the trademark to Huhtamaki in 1996, which granted an exclusive license to Homestead, an affiliate of Hershey.
Hershey then sold products under the Malteser brand as a sub-licensee after 1996.
Mars sued original Malteser registrant Leaf Brands in 1993, but the parties settled out of court.
In 2011, Hershey dropped a case against Mars in which it accused Mars’ packaging for its Dove brand of being too similar to Reese’s.