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Cadbury told to stop marketing ‘Swiss’ chocolate bars

October 29, 1997

LONDON (AP) _ A judge ordered Cadbury Schweppes PLC to stop passing off British-made candy bars as Swiss chocolate.

The giant Swiss chocolatiers Suchard and Lindt, along with lobbyists from the trade group Chocosuisse, had sued Cadbury over its so-called ``Swiss Chalet″ candies.

A High Court judge, Hugh Laddie, sided today with the Swiss by ruling that ``a substantial number″ of consumers would be fooled by Cadbury’s marketing of the honey-flavored chocolate bars.

The Cadbury candy’s wrappers have a picture of the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s famous mountain peak, with a quaint chalet in the valley below. The Cadbury brand name appears in smaller print than the words ``Swiss Chalet.″

Still, Cadbury claimed that ``the risk of public confusion was non-existent.″

The Swiss complained that the Cadbury candy was inferior to Swiss chocolate because it contains less cocoa and more vegetable fat. The British bars are also not as smooth as Swiss chocolate, Cadbury’s rivals insisted.

The judge ruled that ``the words `Swiss chocolate’ have acquired in England a distinct reputation″ for quality and Cadbury was unfairly cashing in on the Swiss chocolate cachet through its packaging.

The judge stopped short of ordering that Cadbury destroy all of its Swiss Chalet bars as the Swiss had requested. Cadbury instead was given two months to sell out of its stocks.

Cadbury said its Swiss Chalet bars were clearly labeled as British chocolate as part of a line of candies that also uses the names Turkish Delight, Old Jamaica and Grand Seville.

``We’ve always maintained we were not trying to confuse the public,″ spokeswoman Dora McCabe said. ``This is clearly Cadbury milk chocolate.″

Cadbury was not sure whether it might appeal the ruling, she said.

The Swiss Chalet chocolate bars were a very small brand and taking them off the market would ``have a negligible impact on the Cadbury business,″ McCabe said.

The Chocosuisse lobbyists issued a statement saying ``its members are pleased that the English courts have supported its efforts over the last few decades to protect `Swiss chocolate’ as a clear product designation.″

The Swiss chocolatiers warned they would file more lawsuits ``against all other manufacturers who unfairly take advantage of the reputation that Swiss chocolate has acquired in the U.K. and elsewhere.″

Cadbury was ordered to pay legal costs, which local press reports estimated at about $1.6 million.

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