Germany’s CBH defeats WilmerHale in gummy bear court battle

CBH Rechtsanwälte has won a German court case for Haribo against WilmerHale client Lindt & Sprüngli after the confectionery company claimed that the Swiss chocolatier had infringed its trademark on golden bears.


 

CBH partner Ingo Jung acted for Haribo as it claimed that by producing gold-wrapped chocolate bears Lindt had infringed its trademarked ‘Gold Bear’ name. Haribo argued that customers could be confused by the similarity in appearance between its gummy bears, which are sold in packets showing a yellow teddy bear with a red ribbon around its neck, and Lindt’s larger chocolate bears, which are wrapped in golden foil with a red ribbon.

The competition chamber of the Cologne regional court ruled yesterday (18 December) that although the official name of the Lindt product is the ‘Lindt teddy’ customers would be more likely to call it a golden bear and this led to an infringement of the Haribo trademark.

It was the first time a court had been asked to rule on a conflict between a trademark existing as a word and a three-dimensional object, and it took as case law decisions which looked at conflicts between a word trademark and a figurative trademark.

It is not yet known whether Lindt will appeal the decision.

WilmerHale Frankfurt head, IP partner Reinhart Lange, was instructed by Lindt.