Firms warned over brand protection

Lizzie Naylor
Lizzie Naylor

FOOD businesses are being urged to to protect their assets following a court decision to reject a plea by Kit Kat to trademark their famous four-fingered shape.
Cadbury challenged an application by Kit Kat owners, Nestlé, to protect the four fingered design in order to prevent copycat products. Nestle had argued that even without its red and white packaging or the word Kit Kat on the chocolate, the shape of the bar should be regarded as distinct.
In light of the ruling, food solicitors Roythornes has warned the decision is a “timely reminder” of the need for companies to invest in brand protection. Lizzie Naylor, solicitor from Roythornes’ food and drink team, said, “While this decision will be incredibly frustrating for Nestle, given the size of the company it may not be the end of the world.
“However, for smaller companies a decision like this could be a huge blow. It therefore demonstrates just how vital it is to ensure all elements of a company’s intellectual property are protected so far as possible.”
Lizzie said protecting the shape of a three dimensional object can be trickier than a more obvious identity feature such as a logo.
She added, “A business will often have more difficulty getting a trademark granted in respect of a three dimensional object, perhaps because their features are often seen as technical function rather than distinctive traits that ought to be protected.”