Bunhill: Melts in the mouth, not in the courtroom

You might have thought that Cadbury had taken surrealism as far as it could go in the 1980s with its infamous "Flake" adverts, which for some reason featured shots of an iguana slithering across a telephone while an enticing-looking woman simulated fellatio (with the flake, not the lizard). But how mundane all that seems now following the company's bizarre recent reversals at the hands of m'learned friends.

First of all there was the ruling from Europe's law lords that the description "milk chocolate" was misleading and unacceptable, given the comparatively low cocoa content in British products. This decision was bad enough for consumers who've grown up with the term, but even worse for Cadbury when you consider that a modern-day Flake ad would have to go something like this: "Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate tastes like chocolate with a 5 per cent vegetable fat content never tasted before."

But a still more bitter defeat was to follow last week when the High Court upheld a complaint from the Swiss chocolate industry that Cadbury had infringed some sort of territorial copyright law by naming one of its products "Swiss Chalet". Never mind that emblazoned on the packaging is the word "Cadbury" - a name so synonymous with British chocolate that you can taste the products when you say it; consumers, it seems, might think they were buying the "real thing".

In some cases this might just be true - though only, I suspect, for people who've purchased a "Swiss Chalet" after imbibing long and hard of one of the products from Diageo - but overall it's plain nonsense ... or even milk nonsense. As far as I know, for example, Swiss Rolls have not been sued for sponging off that country's reputation for incomparable cakes, nor have British restaurants faced litigation for passing off chips as French Fries, and nor has the fashion chain Oasis taken the band of the same name to court for any suggestion that people might think the Gallagher brothers are big girls' blouses. The only souls to whom all these chocolate capers make any sense are the lawyers, who are probably laughing all the way to their Swiss banks. For them - I'd wager the costs of OJ Simpson's defence team - the fun has only just begun.

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