Choc battle a risk to brand

GREER BERRY, DIGITAL EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 28/03/2014

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OPINION: The battle between chocolate makers is likely to leave a bitter taste in consumers' mouths as Cadbury again attempts to melt rival company Whittaker's trademark attempt.

Global chocolate giant Cadbury believes "Berry Forest", which Whittaker's applied for in 2010, is too similar to its trademarked "Black Forest" chocolate and would deceive or confuse customers.

In September, the Intellectual Property Office ruled that Berry Forest was sufficiently different, and could be registered as a trademark.

However, Cadbury appealed the decision in the High Court in Wellington yesterday.

Cadbury is well within its rights to take such action, which is the latest chapter in a bitter and well-documented ongoing rivalry.

But consumers aren't silly, and these high-profile corporate battles have an ongoing effect on companies' appearance in the market.

The stoush brings to mind scenes played out in the craft beer world when DB alleged infringement of its Monteith's "radler" registration by the small Dunedin-based Green Man Brewery.

While Green Man backed down and dropped the "radler" name from one of its beers, presumably because of the cost to fight such a case, the sour taste remained over Monteith's for its perceived bullying tactics.

Kiwis love to back the underdog, and the fact Cadbury has chosen to press on with an appeal after a decision had been made will surely have an effect on the company's reputation.

Long after this latest issue is resolved between Cadbury and Whittaker's, chocolate lovers will remember the publicity around this branding issue.

When that happens, the least of Cadbury's problems will be if consumers can distinguish between two competing products with similar names.

Instead Cadbury will be busy trying to remind consumers that it was once the most trusted brand in the Reader's Digest survey for six years running.

That was until Whittaker's took that spot amid widespread criticism of Cadbury's use of environmentally destructive palm oil.

Having barely recovered from that marketing disaster, Cadbury seems hell-bent on walking into another headline-grabbing scenario.

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- Manawatu Standard

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