TOBLERONE and the Matterhorn

It is common knowledge that state symbols should not be used in trademarks. The reason being that consumers may deem the products/services approved by the government. In Switzerland, a law was passed in 2017 that goes a bit further.



That law prevents companies from being allowed to use Swiss symbols/names if those products are not made in Switzerland. Think of symbols such as the white cross on a red background, certain mountains, as well as Wilhem Tell. Depending on the type of product, the rules are stricter, but for dairy products, the requirement is that 100% of the material must come from Switzerland.

When Toblerone (founded in Switzerland in 1908) announces that it is moving part of its production to Slovakia, its packaging must also be changed. Not only are the words "Switzerland" replaced by "established in Switzerland 1908," but the summit of the Matterhorn also has to make way.

The ancient mountain peak will be replaced by a more generic one. The question is whether consumers will notice this. They will mainly associate the chocolate and the quality of the chocolate with the logo, the triangular packaging and especially the triangular shape of the pieces of chocolate.


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?