A court of appeal in the UK ruled that Nestlé SA cannot trademark the "four-finger design" of the KitKat bar because it has “no inherent distinctiveness.”
Several European media reported on the July 25 decision. A three-judge appeal panel, after deliberating for months, decided the KitKat shape was not a “badge of origin.”
In the U.S., KitKat is manufactured by Hershey under a license from Nestle.
One report said the decision ends a seven-year spat between Nestle and rival Mondelez, which owns the global candy brand Cadbury. Mondelez successfully patented the prism shape of its Toblerone, but Mondelez opposed Nestle's effort in documents filed with the court.
The appeal court ruling affirms a UK high court ruling in January.
A Nestlé spokesperson, quoted in The Guardian, noted Kit Kat's shape has been granted trademark registration in many countries of the world, including Germany, France, Australia, South Africa and Canada.
The Guardian also noted the first KitKat-type bar was sold in Britain by Rowntree in 1935, when it was called Chocolate Crisp, and the shape has changed little since then. Nestlé acquired Rowntree in 1998.