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back to article Bureaucrats foil Nestlé's bid to TRADEMARK KitKat's chocolatey digits

British bureaucrats' refusal to protect the KitKat chocolate bar's distinctive four-finger design from copycats has been slammed by UK lawyers as "remarkable" - and they say the decision has ominous implications for businesses fighting off competitors. The UK Intellectual Property Office - an agency of the government's …

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The newsflash here is that the IPO got a decision correct.

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All those other four finger snacks can now breath a sigh of relief.

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Indeed, on reading the article I fondly remembered memories of the almost identical Norwegian choccy:

Kvikk Lunsj.

Delving into the history, only a couple of years separate their inception (yes the Kit Kat is earlier), but they've both been knocking around for nigh on 80 years, and Freia is now owned by Kraft Foods.

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Anonymous Coward

Notably Kvikk Lunsj is owned by Kraft, who were the ones contesting this patent...

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A start

The more this kind of fatuous "intellectual property" is kicked into touch the better. With their former Canadian CEO looking at possible criminal charges over alleged price fixing in Canada you'd think Nestlé would have better things to do with their time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A start

Nestle was, for many years, on Greenpeace's list of greatest industrial polluters.

I haven't seen the list in several years but, somehow, I doubt they have (fully) cleaned up their act (no pun intended).

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Strange

I thought it was only children in the playground that fought over chocolate bars. Obviously I'm wrong.

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Alert

Re: Strange

You can't have met some of the women I know!

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Poor old Nestlé. They're such a fine upstanding company as well.

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I see that Cadbury Dairy Milk bar (introduced 1905) has a trapezoidal profile to make it breakable, I suspect many other brands used a similar profile and that is why when Rowntree's brought out the Kit Kat in the 1930s they also used the same profile - but needed to make it taller to accommodate the crisp wafer.

I think we all know a KitKat imitation bar when we see it, customers are more sophisticated than the Penguin / Puffin altercation between McVities (United Biscuits) and Asda suggested.

I wonder how much of the Quaker influence/ethos of Rowntree's history carried forward into Rowntree-Mackintosh and thence to Nestle. Or was it all lost along the way.

(PS I still remember the smell of Rowntree's factory when in Norwich city centre)

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I wonder how much of the Quaker influence/ethos of Rowntree's history carried forward into Rowntree-Mackintosh and thence to Nestle. Or was it all lost along the way.

Good point. I would hazard a guess and say: none, and yes.

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Even handed as ever

>> The agency's staff have expanded their historic role of registering patents into politicking and lobbying Europe-wide for weaker intellectual property protection.

If this decision is anything to go by, they're actually lobbying for IP protection to go back to its original function of protecting people who had actually invented something, rather than a scam for large companies to hobble competition.

But that's really about patents and this is a trademark. Seems to me there's plenty of reasons why this should fail: 1) When sold the bar is concealed in a wrapper and presumably that is already trademarked, or features a logo that is 2) Nestle sell Kit Kat bars that don't have the four finger format, so it's hardly a unique identifier of the brand.

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Bunnys and Alps

I think Lindt lost the gold foil and red ribbon Rabbit case.

What next? Alternate Toblerone?

Extremely chocolately caramels? How Chocolatey? 82% Cocoa or they should drop the Extremely.

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FAIL

Nestle And Kraft...

The Apple and Microsoft of the chocolate world.

Interesting fact: Both the the Rowntree and Cadbury families were Quakers - ethical in their dealings with others. Modern-day business could maybe learn something from them.

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Trollface

Re: Nestle And Kraft...

I dunno... I'm thinking more "Apple and Samsung", here -- with this being Britain's "round-cornered rectangle" moment.

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So how does this compare with the case of supermarket "own brand" ketchup, marmite (yeast spread), breakfast cereals and so on... All obvious facsimiles of the original, or at least the market leading, branded products.

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So how does this compare with the case of supermarket "own brand"..

Heinz , for example, would have their packaging designs trademarked. If you launched a ketchup brand using a bottle of an identical shape you'd find yourself dealing with some expensive lawyers.

You can't put Tony The Tiger on your frosted flakes either, but there's nothing stopping you using Charlie The Cheetah or Lenny The Leopard as your mascot.

Speaking of Tigers: Kellogg and Esso/Exxon went to court in the 90s over Kellogg's right to continue using Tony The Tiger.

Long story short- lawyers are parasites

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Mars Bar

My fav copy cat product is the Lidl produced Titan. Its a Mars bar copy. Genius

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Multi-fingered bar

Cadbury used to produce a bar called "Bar 6" which was a similar confection, but with 6 "bars" rather than fingers. Terrys also produced a two fingered wafer in chocolate bar called Riva.

There have also been numerous supermarket look-a-likes for ages, of both the 2 and 4 fingered variety.

I was sad when the writing on the top of each finger changed from Rowntrees to KitKat, although recently I was happy that Cadbury returned the Chocolate Cream confection to the Fry's banner again. Just waiting for the same to happen to the Crunchie.

Was the recent limited edition 5 fingered KitKat an attempt at a trademark landgrab, I wonder?

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Joke

Re: Multi-fingered bar

I guess the 5-finger bar was an attempt to give two-fingers to the IPO?

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Windows

Because

I only buy and eat these things because of their distinctive shape. I have to put up with the chocolate and biscuit in order to enjoy the fingers.

... off to the vending machine again.

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Quick!

Someone patent the idea of a round sweet no more than 3/4" in diameter - the perfect size to put in your mouth...

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Oh, Ambassador!

Part of me once wondered out loud if Ferrero Rocher could be copyrighted - then someone else muttered something about prior-art in the form of squirrel turds.

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Re: Oh, Ambassador!

Shit, that would have to be a bloody big squirrel!

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Holmes

Re: Oh, Ambassador!

Assume temporary compression of the turd and some elasticity of the passage, I think it's feasible.

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Nestle, the finger of guilt.

Whether it's Shreddies or Quality Street the Swiss monster has sucked up the company and sucked out the quality. Rowntree was a benevolent firm though it had already swallowed good Scottish confectioners like Duncan (Walnut Whip) and Mackintosh (Rolo etc).

What what were once called Malted Shreddies have dropped the word Malted from the pack and I now buy Sainsbury's Shreddies-alike in preference.

Quality Street (to be fair, never very good chocs) now inedible to me.

Much the same at Cadbury, even before the Kraft takeover.

Oddly, Mars products seem to retain their quality.

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Just remember....

The antidote for Chocolate is a nice glass of Milk. Preferably nice and cold!

Yum, Chocolate! (be sure to say this in a nice Homer Simpson voice).

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imitation Toblerone

M&S used to do a mountain bar, which was actually better than the Toblerone

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Re: imitation Toblerone

Not difficult. My impression is that the choc used in Toblerone is way different to that used when I was a kid. And not better.

Sainsbury do a "mountain bar" and it's pretty good.

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Four Toes

As someone on here has already said: KitKat have done various products under the KitKat banner without the four-finger profile. Surely if a KitKat was to be distinctively defined as having a four-finger design then, by virtue of that fact alone they have shot themselves in the foot (hence my title)?

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Re: Four Toes

More Kit Kats are probably sold in the 2-finger format in multi-packs than the full four.

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Philips

I remember how Philips had a patent for a three-headed rotary shaver, and when the patent expired they tried to claim that they had a trade mark for basically the same thing. Fortunately, they got shot down (I think).

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