On Thursday last week, the Court of Appeal in Stockholm said Mars will be handed a SEK 2m ($250,000) fine each time it sells candy or chocolate in the Swedish market under the M&M’s name.
The court ruled Mars was in breach of Mondelēz subsidiary Kraft Foods Sverige's trademark for ‘M’ – one of its chocolate-covered peanut products under the Marabou brand.
Mars has until June 30 to appeal the case. Any appeal will halt the ban pending a Supreme Court ruling.
Mars to ‘assess the next steps’
A Mars spokesperson told ConfectioneryNews: “Given the court’s decision we will assess the next steps for our beloved brand in Sweden. We will of course comply with all local laws in this matter.”
The spokesperson added M&M’s have been a popular treat globally since 1941 and Mars has always believed no confusion exists between its product and the Marabou M Peanut Brand.
Celin Huseby, head of corporate and government affairs – Nordics at Mondelēz Norge told this site: “Mondelēz is satisfied with the court’s decision, as our trademarks are extremely valuable to us, and this particular case is an important one as it highlights the importance of protecting and regulating trademarks, as well as demonstrating the strong protection mechanisms that trademarks should be operating within.”
She said Mondelēz would study the court’s ruling before making any decision on the future of the Marabou M brand.
Mondelēz has maintained exclusive rights to the ‘M’ trademark for candy products in Sweden after last week’s ruling
The latest court decision upholds a May 2015 ruling by Stockholm’s district court.
The dispute between Mars and Mondelēz (Kraft Foods Sverige) dates back seven years. It initially 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.
Mondelēz’s Marabou M has been sold in Sweden since 1957. Mars introduced M&M’s Chocolate and Peanut products to the Swedish market in 2009.
Mondelēz alleges Mars made an offer to buy its M trademark in 2007.
The Court of Appeal last week ordered Mars to pay Mondelēz’s legal costs of SEK 237,969 ($29,000).