Mars vs. Mondelez International trademark dispute

In Sweden, British chocolate manufacturer Mars has been forbidden to sell their M&M sweets past the end of June due to an accusation of trademark infringement by Mondelez International.

The two companies first locked horns in Sweden in 2009 when Mondelez accused Mars of infringing on their trademark. 'M', a trademark for chocolate peanut products was registered in 1991 whereas the earliest trademark for M&M’s owned by Mars was only registered in 2000 for paper goods and printed matter. Mars only registered a logo for their  M&M’s brand for confectionary in 2009,  whereas Mondelez have been selling their chocolate snacks in Sweden  since 1957.  Furthermore, the logo that the British company chose to register is very similar to one that had been registered over a decade before by the American firm.

In 2010, Mars retaliated by counter-suing the Illinois-based firm in an attempt to invalidate their trademark but were unsuccessful. According to Confectionary News , Mars has now been warned that if they continue to sell their goods in Sweden past the end of this month that they will be fined an equivalent of $250,000 for each infringement of this ruling.

The British company has until the 30th of June to appeal this decision and if they choose to do so, the ban will be lifted until a Supreme Court has ruled on the case.

Given that Mondelez has been in the marketplace for the longest and was the first to register a trademark for their goods the court ruled in their favour. As Mondelez has demonstrated, the best way to protect your company’s reputation, brand value and profits in today’s global marketplace is by registering a trademark and gaining trademark enforcement rights. However, just having the trademark is not enough. Like Mondelez International you would also need to police your market for potential infringements and then be prepared to act on them when they do arise.

For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website,
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