Tony’s Chocolonely sued by Mondelēz for copying Milka bars in critical cocoa campaign

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Tony's response to the Mondelēz injunction in Germany. Pic: Tony's Chocolonely
Tony's response to the Mondelēz injunction in Germany. Pic: Tony's Chocolonely

Related tags Tony’s Chocolonely Child slavery Cocoa Sustainability

Arch disruptor brand Tony’s Chocolonely is appealing an injunction against Mondelēz International after the Dutch brand launched four temporary wrappers in Germany, mimicking the design of well-known chocolate bars from Ferrero, Mars, Milka, and Nestlé.

Tony’s said the campaign aims to create visibility for the exploitation caused by a failure of the majority of the chocolate industry to pay a living income price for all cocoa beans and show that if Tony’s Chocolonely can produce chocolate paying living income prices, so can the other manufacturers in the chocolate industry.

With the socially critical advertising campaign ‘Tony's fair alternative,’ the mission-led chocolate brand temporarily launched four recognisably parodic chocolate bars in Germany, which are inspired by the design and taste of the major chocolate manufacturers.

UK stunt

This follows a similar stunt by Tony’s Chocolonely in the UK in 2021, in which major chocolate makers put pressure on Tony’s retailers to remove the lookalike ‘Sweet Solutions’ bars because they didn’t want to be associated with the claims of illegal labour in the chocolate industry.

Mondelēz International has now obtained an injunction in court – and while Tony’s is appealing this injunction, it is required to comply by removing all Swiss purple bars and images from the market.

A spokesperson for Tony’s Chocolonely said: "We’ve had to change our bar – but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop raising awareness around the biggest problems in cocoa, which include lack of living income, child exploitation, and deforestation. We will continue focusing on our tried-and-true solution: sourcing beans through Tony’s Open Chain, according to Tony’s 5 Sourcing Principles. And that includes paying cocoa farmers a Living Income Reference Price.”

Trademark infringement

Mondelēz International manufactures Milka and claims lilac chocolate packaging on a Tony’s Chocolonely bar is a trademark infringement. A Hamburg court acceded to Mondelez’s demand for an undisclosed penalty payment for Tony’s Chocolonely’s use of the colour.

Tony’s has responded with disappointment, saying this way, the lawyers win – rather than the cocoa farmers.

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