The Stockholm Court of Appeals has barred Mars from selling its candy-covered chocolates using the lower-case “m&m” name in the country, judging it resembled a local brand too closely.
If Mars doesn’t appeal the ruling granting exclusive rights to Marabou for its “m” chocolate-covered almonds and peanuts, it will have to use the capital M&M logo in Sweden starting in July, or face fines of up to $246,000.
The Marabou brand belongs to snacks giant Mondelez, maker of Oreo cookies and Cadbury and Toblerone chocolates.
Mars did not sell M&M’S in Sweden until 2009, honoring an earlier agreement with Marabou, which has used the lower case “m” on its chocolate bars since the 1960s.
When the agreement expired, Mars introduced M&M’S in Sweden and in 2010 sued to have Mondelez’s “M” trademark declared invalid.
“We have always believed no confusion exists between the colourful m&m’s brand—one of the world’s favourite chocolate products—and the Marabou M Peanut Brand,” Mars said, as reported by BBC. “Given the court’s decision we will assess the next steps for our beloved brand in Sweden.”
“Mondelez is obviously satisfied with the court’s decision, as our trademarks are extremely valuable to us,” Celin Huseby, head of corporate affairs at Mondelez Nordics, told The Independent. “This case is an important one as it highlight the importance of protecting and regulating trademarks.”
Chocolate-related trademark battles are not new. In January, Nestle lost its case to trademark the finger shape of its KitKat bars as a British court ruled that a Norwegian bar, called Kvikk Lunsj—also owned by Mondelez—was entitled to use the same shape.
M&M’S were first made in 1941 and debuted its iconic tagline in 1957: “Melts in your mouth—not in your hand.”