Chocolate Mice Tossed Out With ‘Wholesome’ Wine by Court

The European Union’s highest court refused to grant EU trademark rights to a chocolate mouse and ordered that wine advertised as “wholesome” violates the bloc’s rules to reduce the risks of alcohol abuse.

The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg upheld decisions by the bloc’s trademark agency and a lower EU court rejecting Berlin-based August Storck KG’s bid for trademark protection for mouse-shaped chocolate. Previous shape trademark bids for chocolate bunnies and reindeer by Lindt & Spruengli AG (LISN) also failed.

In a separate case the court refused to allow the use of the German term for “wholesome” or “easily digestible” to describe a wine. A wine growers’ cooperative was told its use of the German word “bekoemmlich” to describe its wine is a health claim “that is prohibited in relation to alcoholic beverages.”

Deutsches Weintor, a cooperative in Rhineland-Palatinate, had challenged the decision by the state authorities to reject its use of the wholesome description on one of its wines. EU nutrition and health rules prohibit any claims of beneficial effects on drinks with more than 1.2 percent of alcohol, even if true, to avoid encouraging consumption and the related risks of abuse and alcoholism.

The labels on the wine at issue describe it as mild with “gentle acidity/wholesome,” which authorities in charge of monitoring alcoholic beverage marketing said was a health claim in breach of the EU rules. Deutsches Weintor argued the description referred to general wellbeing, not health.

Neither of today’s rulings can be appealed. The final decision in the wine labeling case will be made by the Federal Administrative Court in Germany, which in 2010 sought the EU court’s guidance on how to interpret the bloc’s health rules.

The cases are: C-544/10, Deutsches Weintor eG v. Land Rheinland-Pfalz; T-13/09, August Storck KG v. Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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