Nestle loses court battle to trademark KitKat shape

Have a break, have a KitKat… the chocolate bar’s four-fingered shape is as well known as its slogan. But not distinctive enough to warrant its own trademark, a court ruled. Photo: Jason AdlenNestle has lost a long-running court battle to trademark the four-finger shape of its KitKat chocolate bar in Britain.


The Swiss food giant first tried to register the trademark in 2010, but the application was opposed by rival chocolate maker Cadbury, the biggest UK chocolate maker.

The case was previously dismissed by other courts including the European Court of Justice. Britain’s High Court on Wednesday upheld those decisions, ruling that the shape of a KitKat bar has not “acquired a distinctive character” enough to satisfy trademark requirements.

Nestle said it was disappointed by the ruling and planned to appeal the decision.

It argued that the shape of the four-finger snack has been used in Britain for more than 80 years and is well-known to 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,” the company said.

It’s not the first time Cadbury and Nestle have tussled over confectionery in a British court. In 2013, Nestle won a court battle over Cadbury’s attempt to register the purple shade of its chocolate wrappers as a trademark.

The four-fingered KitKat bar has brought in 40 million pounds ($82.2 million) a year between 2008 and 2010 in the UK alone. It’s the world’s third-biggest chocolate brand.

The KitKat was first sold in Britain in 1935 by Rowntree & Co., with the shape changing very little since then. Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, bought Rowntree in 1998.

The UK Trade Marks Registry turned down the application to protect the shape of the chocolate bar in 2013 following the opposition from Cadbury.