Toblerone and Poundland locked in row over shape

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Toblerone’s shape is no longer distinctive enough to be a valid trademark, a budget chain has claimed.  

Court documents have revealed that Toblerone’s trademark rights could be diminished after the brand change the shape of its bar last year.

It comes after the budget chain had to delay the launch of its copycat Twin Peaks bar following a warning from Toblerone’s owner, Mondelez, over trademark infringement. 

But in documents seen by the Guardian, Poundland said that the swiss chocolate bar’s triangular prism shape was no longer distinctive because it has changed.

Barry Williams, trading director of Poundland, argued the new shape was an alternative with “a British taste, and with all the spaces in the right places.”

The retail giant claims the 12-chunk bar registered under an EU trademark in 1997 is no longer on sale in the UK, where an 11-chunk bar has been sold since about 2010.

Poundland has delayed launching its Twin Peaks bar due to a legal battle with Toblerone (PA)

Mondelez argued the Twin Peaks bar is “deceptively and confusingly similar” to Toblerone and the budget chain and its supplier Walkers Chocolates have infringed its trademarks on the overall shape of the bar.

But Poundland said in its defence documents that the Twin Peaks shape was “new and creates and overall impression upon the informed user.”

Sally Briton, an intellectual property lawyer at Mischon de Reya, said that Toblerone may have weakened its rights through changing the shape of its bar.

She said: “A trademark is something that distinguishes your goods and services from others.

“The more you use a mark consistently the stronger your rights should be. There is an argument that Toblerone is weakening its rights by changing the shape of its bar.”

Twin Peak bars are made in Birmingham rather than Switzerland, and at 180g, it is also 30g heavier than the £1 Toblerone currently available. 

Mondelez amd Poundland have been contacted for comment.


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