ekaterina-minaeva / iStockphoto.com
Discount retailer Poundland will have to redesign a chocolate bar that was contested by Mondelēz International for being too similar to its famous Toblerone product.
Poundland will reportedly launch the modified Twin Peaks bar in the New Year, but it will be allowed to release 500,000 units of the current version from December, as long as they come in “distinctive packaging” that differs from the originally planned light-gold wrapper.
The retailer delayed the launch of Twin Peaks earlier this year amid a trademark dispute with Mondelēz.
Twin Peaks is inspired by the double hill on top of Wrekin Hill in Shropshire, UK, and was created in partnership with a Birmingham-based chocolatier.
Toblerone, which contains milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat, has a triangular shape which depicts the Matterhorn, a mountain in The Alps.
Mondelēz’s 3D trademark protecting Toblerone is registered at the UK Intellectual Property Office and covers white, yellow, red, blue and black colours on the branding.
As WIPR previously reported, Mondelēz accused Poundland of infringing its marks on the overall shape of the bar, the chocolate peaks, the gold packaging and the Matterhorn logo.
Poundland argued that Toblerone’s triangular prism shape, which was registered under an EU trademark in 1997, is no longer distinctive, partly because of the existence of the new version.
A Mondelēz statement reported on The Guardian, a British newspaper, said the company was glad to have reached a solution with an “important and valued customer”.
It added: “Toblerone is one of the most loved, unique, best-value Swiss-made chocolate products in the world. Its high-quality, special Swiss recipe and triangular peaks have been delighting people around the world since 1908, and we believe will continue to do so for future generations of chocolate lovers too.”
A Poundland statement added: “Following positive discussions, we can confirm Poundland and Mondelēz have come to an agreement that allows both businesses to put their Twin Peaks dispute behind them.”
Tom Lingard, partner at law firm Stevens & Bolton, said the settlement suggests Poundland accepts it has “sailed a bit too close to the wind in this instance”, but also that Mondelēz would rather let Poundland sell off its existing stock than risk losing an infringement action.
“This could open the door to copycats,” he said.
He added that it was likely that the “distinctive packaging” of the future Poundland bar will be very different from the original version.
“As the shape of the bar is not visible when wrapped, this will go a long way to alleviating Mondelēz’s concerns about confusing the public,” he added.
“The importance of the ongoing commercial relationship between the companies doubtless had a strong influence on the decision, but it is worth considering the significant publicity this has generated for Poundland—which was quite possibly the point of the whole exercise.”
Did you enjoy reading this story? Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.
Poundland; Toblerone; Mondelēz International; chocolate; confectionery; trademark infringement, retail