A deal over chocolate bars that brought an end to three-months of legal sniping could “open the door to copycats”, intellectual property lawyers said yesterday.
This week Mondelez, the American company that owns the Toblerone brand, cut a deal with Poundland, the British cut-price retailer that planned to market a triangular-shaped chocolate bar in the run up to Christmas.
The settlement will force Poundland to redesign its Twin Peaks confectionery, but not before it has put 500,000 of them on sale in “distinctive packaging” for the holiday season.
“The settlement suggests that Poundland accepts that it has sailed a bit too close to the wind in this instance,” Tom Lingard, a partner at the Surrey law firm Stevens & Bolton, said.
However, he added that “Mondolez would rather let Poundland sell off its existing stock than risk losing an infringement action altogether. This could open the door to copycats.”
It is worth considering the significant publicity this has generated for Poundland
The lawyer predicted that the distinctive packaging of the Poundland bar “will be very different from the original version. As the shape of the bar is not visible when wrapped, this will go a long way to alleviating Mondolez’s concerns about confusing the public.”
Legal experts have suggested that commercial relationships were crucial in encouraging a settlement to the dispute, and Lingard pointed out that there was a marketing benefit to the legal wrangling.
“It is worth considering the significant publicity this has generated for Poundland, which was quite possibly the point of the whole exercise,” he said.