Birmingham chocolate maker Cadbury has won the first round of a long-running legal battle with rival Nestle over use of the colour purple on its wrappers.
For well over 100 years Cadbury has used purple on its packaging – but the successful formula was threatened by its fiercest competitor Nestle.
For three years the Bournville-based chocolate giant has been caught up in a battle after the Swiss giant asked British officials to revoke Cadbury’s trademark rights to the purple colour used on its packaging.
A decision in favour of Nestle would have been a massive blow to Cadbury, which first applied to register purple as a trademark in 1995.
A legal ruling in Nestle’s favour would have opened the floodgates for rivals, including supermarkets, to use the colour on their own-brand chocolate bars.
Trademark registrars have now issued a preliminary decision finding in favour of Cadbury, but only partially.
The wrangle could now drag on after the Intellectual Property Office said rights to the particular shade of purple – pantone 2685c – would apply to chocolate bars and drinking chocolate.
But it said it was not yet satisfied that the colour had acquired a distinctive association for Cadbury on ‘chocolate confectionery’ and ‘chocolate assortments.’
Ian Wood, a partner at law firm Charles Russell, which represented Cadbury, said: “This is a very significant victory for Cadbury after a serious attack by a major competitor.”
Cadbury spokesman Tony Bilsborough added: “Purple is a colour that has been used by Cadbury for more than 100 years – the colour has always been associated with Cadbury.
“Purple was Queen Victoria’s favourite colour and the Cadbury brothers were loyal supporters of the Queen.
“We have gone to great lengths to guard our trademark rights and we are delighted by the initial legal findings. We have been looking to protect the colour for years.”
Nestle has made no comment.