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Cadbury’s Purple Reign Ended by U.K. Court in Nestle Appeal

Cadbury Chocolate Bar
Cadbury, the U.K.’s biggest chocolate maker, used a pale mauve color as early as 1905 and its packaging has featured purple and gold dating back to 1920, according to the company website. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Nestle SA won a U.K. Court of Appeal ruling in a trademark case against Mondelez International Inc.’s Cadbury unit over purple packaging for milk chocolate.

Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, overturned an October 2012 decision that ruled the color purple was distinctive to the maker of Dairy Milk bars. The ruling allows Nestle, and any other confectioners, to sell chocolate products with the same colored wrapping.

Cadbury, the U.K.’s biggest chocolate maker, used a pale mauve color as early as 1905 and its packaging has featured purple and gold dating back to 1920, according to the company website. The dispute dates back to 2008, when Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle opposed Cadbury’s initial application for a color trademark.

The trademark applied for “lacks the required clarity, precision, self-containment, durability and objectivity to qualify for registration,” Judge John Mummery said in the ruling handed down today.

Cadbury is studying the ruling and will consider whether to appeal, it said in an e-mailed statement.

Cadbury History

“Our color purple has been linked with Cadbury for a century and the British public has grown up understanding its link with our chocolate,” Cadbury said.

Mondelez, which also makes Oreo cookies, was created in a split of Kraft Foods Group Inc. last year. The Deerfield, Illinois-based Mondelez had a 20.5 percent share of the western European chocolate confectionery market in 2012, according to Bloomberg Industries data.

“We believe this was the right outcome from a legal perspective,” James Maxton, a spokesman for Nestle, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Societe Des Produits Nestle v Cadbury U.K. Ltd. in the U.K. Court of Appeal, civil division, case no. A3/2012/2702

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

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

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