British confectioner Cadbury has won a trademark dispute with Nestlé over the rights to the “iconic” purple color that Cadbury uses on its wrappers.
The U.K. Intellectual Property Office ruled that the shade—pantone 2865c—showed enough "distinctive character" for a trademark.
The ruling follows a three-year battle between the chocolate companies. In 2008 Nestlé challenged Cadbury’s application to trademark the color, which it had used on its packaging since 1914.
The Birmingham Post reports that a legal ruling in Nestlé’s favor “would have opened the floodgates for rivals, including supermarkets, to use the color on their own-brand chocolate bars.”
Cadbury now holds exclusive rights to use the color on chocolate bar and chocolate drink packaging in the U.K. The trademark use does not, however, include chocolate cakes, confectionery or chocolate assortments, following Nestlé’s objections.
Marketing Week notes that Nestlé can continue to use a similar purple color in its Quality Street chocolate assortment.
A spokesman for Cadbury said the group was “pleased” with the ruling. “This color is clearly associated to Cadbury and something we jealously guard," he said.
The Independent reports that the registrar in the case, Allan James, noted that the color had been used in Cadbury’s advertising campaigns to distinguish the brand. These included the popular campaign showing a gorilla playing the drums. James rejected claims that Cadbury had registered the colour in bad faith as "absurd", the Independent says.
Nestlé however stresses that this is just an “interim decision.” The trademark only covers “some of the goods for which Cadbury had applied,” the company said in a statement. "We will assess the final decision once it has been issued.”