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Gummy bear maker, chocolatier argue sweet treats trademark


Germany's Federal Court of Justice tossed out gummy bear maker Haribo's claim Wednesday against the chocolate treat maker, Lindt. The gummy bear makers claimed the chocolate red-bowed teddy bears wrapped in gold sold by Lindt were a violation of their trademark.

“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.

Terms such as “teddy”, “chocolate bear” or “chocolate teddy” could be applied to the product just as well as “gold bear.” “It's not sufficient that the trademarked word is just one of several obvious names to describe the product form,” the court said in a statement.

The case came to court in 2012, when Bonn, Germany-based Haribo filed against Zurich, Switzerland-based Lindt & Spruengli, after the “Lindt Teddy” chocolate bears began to be sold during the 2011 Christmas season.

The gummy bear makers said shoppers would confuse the two products, even though Lindt's teddy bears are made of chocolate and gummy bears are a jelly sweet, news reports said.

Lindt said its chocolate bears were inspired by their own popularly known chocolate golden bunnies that are sold during the Easter season. Lindt also claims on its website that its teddy “sets ... more than 60 million hearts racing” every year.

The 0.78-inch gummy bear has become the best-known product of Haribo, a company created in 1920. First sold in its current form in 1967, about 100 million of the gummy fruit bears are made each day, according to news reports.

Lindt said it “will continue to delight all Lindt chocolate lovers with the Lindt Teddy,” in a statement regarding the German court's ruling said.

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