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Haribo, Lindt products
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/E. Bieri

Lindt wins court battle

September 23, 2015

Germany's Federal Court of Justice has ended a long-standing legal battle, ruling that the Swiss candy giant's chocolate teddy bears are no copy of Haribo's gummy bears and no violation of Haribo's logo.


"Lindt's sale of bear-shaped chocolates wrapped in a golden foil with a red ribbon is neither a violation of Haribo's 'Gold Bear' trademark nor an illegal imitation of the fruit gum products," the court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling means Switzerland's Lindt & Spruengli can continue to sell the chocolate bears it introduced four years ago.

"We regret to hear of the court's decision, which we consider inappropriate in content," Haribo said in a statement. The German candy manufacturer had taken Lindt & Spruengli to court in 2012 after the Swiss chocolatier began selling their "Lindt Teddy" figurines in 2011 for the Christmas season.

Haribo claimed that the gold-foil packed Lindt teddies were an imitation of its gold color bear illustration - which also features a red ribbon around its neck on its jelly bear packaging.

The Swiss company argued however that the teddy bear figurines were inspired by its best-selling "Gold Bunny" chocolates, which are also wrapped in a golden foil and decorated with a red ribbon and a little bell.

All the way to the top court

The bunnies were first produced in 1952, and are best-sellers during the Easter season.

A German court had initially ruled in favor of Haribo but an appeal court threw out that verdict, finding that the chocolate teddies could not be mistaken for Haribo's jelly sweets.

To end the dispute, the case was then brought to the Federal Court of Justice for a final ruling.

The 2-centimeter (0.78-inch)-tall gummy bear has become the best-known product of Haribo, a company created in 1920 in the western German city of Bonn.

First sold in its current form in 1967, about 100 million such bears are now produced daily. Lindt meanwhile claims on its website that its teddy "sets ... more than 60 million hearts racing" every year.

Lawsuits over product trademarks are often brought in Germany, where the justice system is generally viewed as offering strong protection against violations.

tko/hg (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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