Cadbury’s Triumph in Purple Trade Mark Dispute

Posted: 1st October 2012

Confectionary giants, Cadbury UK Limited, have triumphed in their quest for the exclusive right to use a particular shade of purple on their milk chocolate products which has been familiar to sweet-toothed customers for almost a century.

The High Court upheld the company’s arguments that the shade of purple known as Pantone 2685C which is widely associated with the Cadbury brand by the public and which has been used on the company’s packaging since 1914 is of a sufficiently distinctive character to be capable of being registered as a trade mark.

In the light of the widespread public association of the colour with Cadbury’s milk chocolate, Judge Colin Birss QC rejected a plea by the company’s trade rival, Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. that it is not a sign capable of being represented graphically and is therefore not registerable as a trade mark.

However, in partially upholding Nestlé’s appeal against a decision of the Registrar of Trade Marks, the judge accepted arguments that the trade mark only has application in respect of Cadbury’s milk chocolate in bar and tablet form, milk chocolate for eating, drinking chocolate and preparations for making drinking chocolate. The trade mark does not apply to other Cadbury’s products, including dark or white chocolate and confectionary which combines chocolate with other ingredients.

Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v Cadbury UK Limited. Case Number: CH/2011/APP/0707