Lidl chocolate bunny: legal row with Lindt explained - does Swiss court ruling mean the end for discount treat
The supermarket has been caught in a legal storm over a similar product to Swiss chocolatier Lindt ‘ famous chocolte Easter bunny
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Supermarket giant Lidl has been embroiled in a bitter legal batter with Swiss chocolate company Lindt over claims that its off-brand chcoclate Easter bunny product was a rip-off of Lindt’s famous product.
The two companies had been battling it out at Switzerland’s highest court in Lausanne, with Lindt & Sprüngli arguing that the supermarket version of the sweet treat infringed on copyright. The discount version of the treat has been a popular option for Lidl customers during the Easter months.
But what happened during the trial? And will Lidl still be able to sell the product? Here’s everything you need to know.
What happened in legal row between Lindt and Lidl?
The Swizz federal court in Lausanne ruled that Lindt’s famous sweet does deserve protection from copycat products. The court overruled a previous decision made by a Swiss commericial court.
In the previous trial, a similar argument was made by Lindt. However, their bid was unsuccessful in that instance.
The new ruling by the federal court came after Lindt argued that its ‘Gold Bunny’ product was easily identifiable to most customer. The company added that off-brand versions, such as that of Lidl’s, were likely to be confused by customers to the real product, despite there being some subtle differences in packaging. This was submitted in evidence as surveys.
Lindt have previously fought for copyright protections in court. The chocolatier was granted a trademark for the shape of its Gold Bunny in 2001, while also winning a battle against Australian rival Hauswirth in 2011.
Hauswirth created similar products to the Gold Bunny - a chocolate in the shape of the animal with a distinctive red ribbon around its neck, much like the Lindt original. The Australian company was ordered to stop manufacturing the copycat product by a Vienna court.
Additionally, Lindt was granted trademark protection for the specific golden shade of the foil wrapping by a German federal court in 2021.
Will Lidl still be able to sell the chocolate bunny?
During the ruling of the 2022 case with Lidl, the Swiss judge told the German supermarket giant that itcould no longer manufacture the off-brand discount products. The product was popular in stores, offering a similar product to the Lindt bunny for almost half the price to customers.
The federal judge told the supermarket that it could no longer sell any products which has already been manufactured. The discount retailer has been ordered to destroy its stock of the item.
It is likely that Lidl will melt down the product and repurpose the material. The judge told Lidl bosses that the order to destroy the product was “proportionate, especially as it does not necessarily mean that the chocolate as such would have to be destroyed”.