Nestlé loses high court bid to trademark shape of KitKat

Nestlé has failed in its attempt to trademark the shape of the KitKat in the UK, opening the door for rival companies to launch copycat products.

The high court ruling on Wednesday was the culmination of a long-running legal battle between Nestlé and Cadbury which has involved hearings in Britain and courts elsewhere in Europe.

Nestlé expressed its disappointment at the decision and said it would appeal.

The company first tried to trademark the shape of the four-fingered chocolate bar in 2010, but its attempts were opposed by Cadbury.

The two confectioneries have been locked in a tit-for-tat battle over trademarks since Nestlé blocked Cadbury’s attempts to trademark the shade of purple used in the packaging of Dairy Milk.

The European Court of Justice had already ruled that the shape of the KitKat is not distinctive enough to merit a trademark and that such a designation would not comply with European law.

The first KitKat-type bar was sold in Britain by Rowntree & Co in 1935, when it was called Chocolate Crisp, and the shape has changed little since then. Nestlé acquired Rowntree in 1998.

A lookalike called Kvikk Lunsj, translated as “quick lunch”, launched in Norway in 1937 and is available in some UK shops.

After the High Court ruling, a Nestlé spokesman said: “KitKat is much loved and the iconic shape of the four-finger bar, which has been used in the UK for more than 80 years, is well known by consumers.

“We believe that the shape deserves to be protected as a trademark in the UK and are disappointed that the court did not agree on this occasion. We are taking the necessary steps to appeal this judgement.”

Nestlé has announced that it will appeal this decision.