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FOOD & DRINK

Swiss court backs Lindt in chocolate bunny bust-up with Lidl supermarket

Swiss luxury chocolatier Lindt & Sprungli has won its case against the local branch of budget supermarket chain Lidl over its similar-looking Easter bunnies, according to a court decision published Thursday.

Swiss court backs Lindt in chocolate bunny bust-up with Lidl supermarket
Lindt is the ONLY Easter bunny, Swiss court rules. Photo: Pixabay.

The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland ruled that Lindt’s chocolate bunny wrapped in aluminium foil, whether “golden or of another colour”, should benefit from trademark protection against Lidl’s rival product.

It banned the chain’s Swiss branches Lidl Schweiz and Lidl Schweiz DL from selling its similar bunnies and ordered the destruction of any still in stock.

Launched in 1952, the golden bunny with a bell on a ribbon is one of Lindt’s flagship products.

Lindt & Sprungli sued in 2018, claiming that Lidl’s bunnies had a very similar shape and appearance and could be confused with its main Easter product.

But the commercial court of Switzerland’s Aargau canton, west of Zurich, dismissed Lindt’s action in 2021.

However, Switzerland’s highest court overturned the decision, finding that Lidl’s bunnies posed “a risk of confusion even if the two products present
certain differences”.

“Given the overall impression produced, Lidl’s bunnies arouse obvious associations with the shape of Lindt’s,” the federal court said.
“In the public mind, they cannot be distinguished.”

Lindt provided consumer surveys showing that its bunny had achieved a level of general public awareness.

The Federal Supreme Court decided that it “can be considered common knowledge that the shapes that Lindt & Sprungli has had protected by trademark law are associated by a very large part of the public with the Lindt & Sprungli company”.

Lindt said in a statement: “This verdict is a milestone for the protection of Lindt’s golden bunny in its Swiss home market.”

Contacted by AFP, Lidl said it could not provide “any information concerning legal proceedings which are still ongoing”.

Lindt & Sprungli employs approximately 14,600 people worldwide. In 2021, its turnover amounted to nearly 4.6 billion Swiss francs.

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FOOD & DRINK

Why the Ovomaltine drink is a true Swiss classic

If you have never tried Switzerland’s famous malt-based beverage, you may want to give it a try. It is just what the doctor ordered.

Why the Ovomaltine drink is a true Swiss classic

In more ways than one, Ovomaltine has a lot of ‘Swissness’ in it: it first saw the light of day in Bern, has a chocolaty flavour, and is consumed with milk.

If you are partial to chocolate drinks like Caotina or Suchard, the less sweet taste of Ovomaltine may not tickle your fancy as much, especially if you are discovering this beverage as an adult.

The Swiss, on the other hand, develop a taste for it in childhood, drinking it hot for breakfast or cold for zvieri / quatre-heures — a traditional snack the kids have in the afternoon when they return from school.

A perfect after-school drink. Photo: Pixabay

What exactly is Ovomaltine?

It is a – cocoa flavoured powder made from malt extract and dried eggs, which is dissolved in cold or hot milk — pretty much the same way as instant chocolate powder is.

However, it is less sweet than a traditional cocoa drink, with a distinct malty flavour.

Ovomaltine is a brainchild of a chemist Georg Wander who lived in the second half of the 19th century.
The only blemish in this Swiss success story is that Wander was actually German. However, as many German immigrants then and now, he was naturalised and settled in Bern, where he opened a laboratory which manufactured tinctures, ointments, oils and beverages.

This is how we got interested in malt, and in how its extracts could be used in various edible forms.

However, it was only after his death that Wander’s son, Albert, perfected his father’s recipe, launching the early version of Ovomaltine in 1904.

It was originally marketed as a doctor-recommended health drink, although how much of this is actually true is debatable.

Strengthening Switzerland’s defences

According to House of Switzerland organisation, “though Ovomaltine was never strictly proven to have medicinal properties, the product began to conquer all sorts of new consumers and markets, including nursing mothers, exhausted factory workers, stressed motorists and sports people. Next the Swiss wonder drink was adopted by the armed forces, where it was deployed to ‘strengthen Switzerland’s defences’.” 

For decades, Ovomaltine had been sold in large orange tins, though over the years the original powder morphed into a wide variety of products, including candy, biscuits and chocolate spread.

And if you think the world ‘Ovomaltine’ sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because its sweeter version is sold in foreign countries under the ‘Ovaltine’ label.

These are some other typically Swiss foods:

What is Aromat and why are the Swiss so obsessed with it

How can we explain the Swiss obsession with the drink Rivella?

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