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Chocolate reindeer freed from Swiss packaging

The European Union’s top court has ruled against allowing Swiss manufacturer Lindt and Sprüngli to apply a trademark to gold-wrapped chocolate reindeer and Easter rabbits.

The Swiss company, along with Germany’s August Storck, wanted to register the chocolate figures – also including a mouse and a bell with a red ribbon – to make sure only their versions could appear in Europe’s chocolate shops and supermarkets.

But the General Court of the European Union ruled Friday that the sweets “are devoid of any distinctive character” that would make them worthy of trademark protection.

The court in Luxembourg said that “a rabbit, a reindeer and a small bell are typical shapes in which chocolate and chocolate goods are presented at certain times of the year, in particular at Easter and Christmas”.

Together with chocolate eggs, the foil-wrapped rabbits are popular treats for children’ Easter baskets. For Christmas, Lindt has two gold-wrapped smiling reindeer with a red ribbon round their necks, pulling a chocolate Santa in a sled.

Lindt had sought a trademark on the figures from the EU’s trademark office, but the body refused, claiming they did not stand out enough.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR