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Lidl's Knockoff Chocolate Bunnies Should Be Melted Down, Court Ruling Suggests

Food & Wine 9/30/2022 Jelisa Castrodale

Michael Kovac / Contributor/Getty Images © Provided by Food & Wine Michael Kovac / Contributor/Getty Images

Last March, a reporter from LancsLive compared the seasonal chocolate bunnies from Aldi, Lidl, and Lindt. She noted that the bunnies were "practically identical" in their foil wrappings, but the Lidl and Lindt versions "both shared similar smoother features" when they were unwrapped.

Lindt's legal team also noticed how much Lidl's rabbits looked like theirs, and it has argued in court that it deserved copyright protection against Lidl's lookalikes. Last year, Lindt lost its case in Swiss commercial court, but earlier this week, the federal court in Lausanne ruled in Lindt's favor.

According to The Guardian, Lindt included public surveys to demonstrate that its red bow- and gold bell-wearing gold bunny was well-known to the public. The court agreed, and noted that Lidl's bunnies — which have a green bow and small bell — could cause confusion among the chocolate bunny-buying public.

"Given the overall impression produced, Lidl's bunnies arouse obvious associations with the shape of Lindt's," the court said in its ruling. "In the public mind, they cannot be distinguished."

As a result of this ruling, Lidl will not be able to sell the bunnies in Switzerland and, although the court ordered Lidl to destroy its existing inventory of chocolate rabbits, it did suggest that they could be melted down so the chocolate could be used in other products. "Destruction is proportionate, especially as it does not necessarily mean that the chocolate as such would have to be destroyed," the court wrote.

This isn't the only adorable edible critter to prompt a legal battle: in April 2021, British retailer Marks & Spencer filed an intellectual property claim, arguing that Aldi's Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake looked a little too much like its own Colin the Caterpillar cake.

"Because we know the M&S brand is special to our customers and they expect only the very best from us, love and care goes into every M&S product on our shelves," a spokesperson for the chain told the BBC. "So we want to protect Colin, Connie [the Caterpillar, Colin's girlfriend] and our reputation for freshness, quality, innovation and value."

In February, The Telegraph reported that the two retailers had reached an agreement, after Aldi said that it would give Cuthbert a cosmetic overhaul, changing his appearance enough to distinguish him from M&S's own insect cake.

Regardless, this is why we always eat the chocolate bunny's ears first: so he can't hear how much trouble he's caused.

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