8 June 2016Trademarks

Mars faces M&M’s trademark blow

Confectionery company Mars may face a hefty fine if it sells M&M's in Sweden, following a trademark infringement case with Mondelēz International.

Mars could face a fine of up to SEK2 million ($245,000) when it sells or imports M&M’s into the country unless it appeals against a ruling by a Swedish court.

In a decision handed down on June 2, the Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm ruled that Mars had infringed a trademark belonging to Mondelēz’s subsidiary Kraft Food Sverige’s for the term ‘m’.

M is a chocolate covered peanut sold by Kraft under its Marabou brand. The ruling only applies to M&M's marketed with lower case lettering.

Mars now has until June 30 to appeal against the case. Any appeal will void the ruling pending a decision by the country’s Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for Mondelēz told WIPR: “Mondelēz is satisfied with the court’s decision, as our trademarks are extremely valuable to us, and this particular case is an important one as it highlights the importance of protecting and regulating trademarks, as well as demonstrating the strong protection mechanisms that trademarks should be operating within.”

The spokesperson added: “We will now take the time to study the specifics of the court’s decision before making further statement on the future of the brands in question.

A spokesperson for Mars told WIPR: "Mars has received the court ruling issued by the Court of Appeal in Stockholm on June 2 prohibiting us from using the trademarks 'M&M's' and ‘m’ in Sweden. M&M's brand candies have been a popular treat around the world since 1941 and we have always believed no confusion exists between the colourful M&M's brand - one of the world’s favourite chocolate products - and the Marabou M peanut brand.

"Given the court’s decision we will assess the next steps for our beloved brand in Sweden. We will of course comply with all local laws in this matter. This ruling has no impact to the sale of M&M's outside Sweden," the spokesperson added.

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