Orange County - In a trademark dispute with Nestle spanning more than three years, British chocolate candy manufacturer Cadbury has successfully secured a trademark for the color purple used in its purple candy wrappers. Cadbury has been using the purple packaging for over 100 years and began seeking exclusive trademark rights to the shade in 1995.
After the British Intellectual Property Office (IPO) granted Cadbury the purple trademark in 2008, Nestle, Cadbury's biggest competitor, responded to the registration with a notice of opposition. In its notice, Nestle argued that "the trademark is one which is not unique to the applicant and should be free for everyone in that line of trade to use." Nestle went on to claim in its opposition that by registering the color purple, Cadbury had acted in bad faith.
Earlier this month, the IPO ruled that the particular shade of trademarked purple, known as Pantone 2865c, was indeed distinctive enough for Cadbury to own exclusive rights to. However, the trademark can only be used on certain Cadbury candy wrappers and Nestle still has the option of filing an appeal against the ruling.
The IPO's recent ruling will give Cadbury exclusive rights to use the purple on packaging for "chocolate in bar and tablet form as well as eating and drinking chocolate." Nestle as well as other Cadbury competitors will be able to use the color on packaging in other candy categories, which would include chocolate cake, confectionery, and chocolate assorted candies.
A spokesperson for Cadbury said the chocolatier was "pleased" with the ruling and said, "This color is clearly associated to Cadbury and something we jealously guard."
While Nestle retains the right to appeal the decision, the IPO's ruling would likely remain unchanged. Trademark registrations for colors can be extremely difficult to obtain, mainly because of the challenge to prove that in the mind of the consumer, the color has become synonymous with a particular brand. In this case however, it appears that Cadbury's long standing use of the color purple does give it rights to exclusive use of that color.