Bank accused in chocolate ingot scam

Bank Of England officials have been accused of playing one of the most underhand commercial tricks of all: of copying someone else's product and claiming it as their own.

The product in question is not pound coins or notes but chocolate. Among the most popular lines in the Bank's small gift shop in its palatial Threadneedle Street headquarters are chocolate bars shaped like gold ingots, priced at pounds 4.99.

When Goldkenn, the Swiss company that makes gold bar chocolates, which are on sale in department stores and at duty free shops around the world, discovered the Bank's little earner, it was not amused.

A stiff lawyer's letter has been fired off to the Bank, demanding the bars be withdrawn from sale, or an action will commence. "We will not hesitate to issue proceedings," said David Llewelyn, partner at Llewelyn Zietman, a firm of City solicitors specialising in trademark law. Mr Llewelyn said the popularity of Goldkenn's bullion bars meant copying was inevitable. The company had brought actions, successfully, in Hong Kong and Singapore, and was fighting a case in the US.

"As far as the chocolate market is concerned, the gold bar is synonymous with Goldkenn," said Mr Llewelyn. The ingot box design was registered by Goldkenn in the UK.

The Bank's bars are not Swiss-made but come from Maureens of Brimfield, a Shropshire manufacturer. "We have had a letter from Goldkenn which we have sent to our solicitors," said a Bank spokesman.

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