Poundland’s Twin Peaks chocolate bar has recently gone on sale and it’s already creating a buzz, with a rival issuing legal proceedings. Why all the fuss?
Not one to shy away from a bit of intellectual property drama (click here for a reminder), Mondelēz, the Toblerone manufacturer, argued that Poundland’s new Twin Peaks chocolate bar was 'deceptively and confusingly similar' to the world-famous Toblerone.
Twin Peaks is a chocolate bar with two peaks inspired by the Wrekin and Ercall hills on each row. Sound familiar?
Poundland admitted it had launched Twin Peaks following Toblerone’s reduction of its size by increasing the valleys between triangles and reducing the number of triangles in each bar, but argued that the shape could no longer be trademarked after this controversial transformation.
Poundland believed that Mondelēz had lost its right to exclusivity since it had ceased to be sufficiently distinctive.
Additionally, Twin Peaks was originally designed to have a gold wrapper with red font, similar to Toblerone’s packaging.
Following settlement of a protracted legal dispute, Poundland and Mondelēz have agreed that only 500,000 Twin Peaks bars, with packaging now matching Poundland’s corporate colours instead, will go on sale. Once these bars have been sold, Poundland will sell Twin Peaks bars with a revised shape, representing the Wrekin and Ercall hills more accurately.
Whether Poundland intentionally designed a chocolate bar with many similarities to another that has been sold around the world for over 100 years is not for us to say. What we can say is that it certainly managed to create a PR storm. Poundland is currently selling the first 500,000 Twin Peaks bars as limited editions and the word is that customers have been flocking to stores to buy them. Twin Peaks promises to provide a distinctive British flavour with 20% more chocolate than Toblerone.
Let us not forget, however, that Poundland will have also run up a very considerable legal bill during this whole saga. While a large corporate may be able to absorb such costs and live to fight and product launch another day, smaller organisations are much more vulnerable to the consequences of intellectual property claims (and a smaller organisation might well have ended up having to destroy the 500,000 surviving original bars).
The moral here is this: if you’re planning on launching a product or a service and you might be getting a little close to an existing brand’s IP, research the market (and, if necessary, seek legal advice) before you expend further time and money on the actual launch and risk finding yourself in legal hot water.