It's the taste of paradise, but for Europe it's just a bar


A Bounty may be instantly recognisable by its wrapper, but inside it is just another chocolate bar. That was the verdict of European judges yesterday in a ruling refusing permission for Mars, maker of Bounty, to register the shape of the bar as a trademark.

The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg declared: “The allegedly distinctive characteristics, namely the rounded ends of the bar and the three arrows or chevrons on top of it, cannot be sufficiently distinguished from other shapes commonly used for chocolate bars.”

The three-dimensional shape of the bar was “devoid of any distinctive character and Mars has not proved that the shape has acquired distinctive character through use in the entire Community” (EU), the judgment added.

The verdict is a victory for Ludwig Schokolade, a German chocolate maker, which challenged a decision taken by the EU’s trademark office in 2003 to approve Mars’s application to register the Bounty’s shape as a trademark across Europe.

Mars produced results of a survey of Bounty recognition in six of the then 15 EU countries, but the judges said: “Given that neither the market shares of the Bounty bar nor the rate of recognition of the product concerned are uniform throughout the Community, it is not possible to extrapolate to the rest of the Community market the results of the surveys carried out only in six.” – (PA)