Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli has won a legal round in Switzerland against the local branch of supermarket chain Lidl over its Easter bunnies. In a decision made public on Thursday, the Federal Court ruled that Lindt & Sprüngli’s chocolate rabbit wrapped in aluminum foil, “golden or of another color” should benefit from trademark protection against the competing product. from Lidl.
He banned the Swiss branch of the supermarket chain, called Lidl Schweiz AG and Lidl Schweiz DL AG, from selling his very similar-looking rabbit in its stores and ordered the destruction of any copies still in stock.
In 2018, the Swiss group Lindt & Sprüngli sued the Swiss branch of Lidl, claiming that the low-cost supermarket chain’s rabbit had a very similar shape and appearance and could be confused with its flagship holiday product. Easter. But the Commercial Court had rejected his request. The Federal Court, the highest court in Switzerland, overturned this judgment, considering that the chocolate bunnies presented “a risk of confusion even if the two products present certain differences”.
“Given the overall impression produced, the rabbits of Lidl arouse obvious associations with the shape of the rabbit of Lindt”, argued the Federal Court. “In the mind of the public they cannot be distinguished,” he added. Lindt and Sprüngli had provided supporting consumer surveys showing that its rabbit had achieved general public awareness.
The Federal Supreme Court ruled that it “can be considered well known that the shapes that Lindt & Sprüngli has had protected by trademark law are associated by a very large part of the public with the Lindt & Sprüngli company”.
Launched in 1952, the golden rabbit and its bell ribbon is one of Lindt’s flagship products. “This judgment is a key step for the protection of Lindt’s golden rabbit in its home market in Switzerland,” responded the group based in Kilchberg, on the shores of Lake Zurich, in a press release. Owner of the Lindor praline brands, the American brands Ghirardelli and Russell Stover as well as the Italian brand Caffarel, Lindt & Sprüngli employs approximately 14,600 people worldwide. In 2021, its turnover amounted to nearly 4.6 billion Swiss francs (4.7 billion euros at current rates).
Contacted, the Swiss branch of Lidl supermarkets indicated that it could not provide “any information concerning legal proceedings still in progress”.