The Swiss Federal Supreme Court, the highest judicial instance in the country, ordered LIDL to “destroy” one of its products, for having violated a copyright of a Swiss brand. In what I think is one of the most bizarre news of the year, the court ordered that LIDL must “destroy” its chocolate Easter bunnies, because they are a copy of the originals of the Lindt brand.
I wrote the word “destroy” in between quotation marks because the court recognized the value of chocolate as a raw material, but the rabbit figure is what must be destroyed.
Hence, LIDL can take all its chocolate bunnies and melt them down to create some other product, like chocolate giraffes or chocolate elephants, I don’t know, there are a bunch of unbranded animals, make your choice Mr. Lidl. It just must not have the same shape as the original Lindt figure. “Destruction is proportionate, especially as it does not necessarily mean that the chocolate as such would have to be destroyed”, the court’s summary read.
LIDL is not Lindt
When comparing the two chocolate bunnies, the one from LIDL seems to have a wrapping in a golden tone similar to the original from Lindt (although less intense in color). But, while the ribbon from Lindt’s is bright red, LIDL choose to use a green rope with a small bell. Doesn’t matter if you tried to disguise, folks: they gotcha.
The court made a very detailed scrutiny of the bunnies, based on everything from their posture, color and ribbon, to the details of the neck folds, the shape of the pendant, the inclination of the ears and facial expression. Better than a CSI investigation!
The Swiss company argued that because they are too similar, its customers and fans could get confused and take the wrong bunny from the shelf. Before filing its lawsuit, Lindt conducted a survey among 1,200 Swiss citizens between the ages of 15 and 74, in all linguistic regions, and the results showed that 94% of people recognized the Lindt rabbit in color, as well as 95% that recognized it in a black and white image.
With this decision, the next time you enter any supermarket in the world – including LIDL – you will know that, if you see a chocolate rabbit, it will undoubtedly be the original, the one from Lindt. The Swiss brand has been selling these chocolate bunnies, virtually unchanged, since 1952, and now sells about 160 million units each year worldwide.
In a similar case, the famous British chain Marks and Spencer reached an agreement with ALDI at the beginning of 2002 after claiming that the Cuthbert paste was too similar to its own Colin the Caterpillar.