Kit Kat – Chocolate or Chanachur?

Image 1For those who have grown up in Calcutta in the mid- 90s, the words, ‘Kit-Kat’, would at the same time suggest a tangy mixture called ‘Chanachur’, a favourite snack of the banter loving Bengali and the internationally renowned, crispy chocolate fingers, sleeved in a red wrapper, manufactured by Nestle.

Apparently, since the 80s and 90s both these brands have been duking it out, opposing each other’s attempts to register their respective Trademarks in India till the matter reached the IPAB recently. The question before the IPAB was in fact quite fundamental; which of the two Kit-kats was the prior user?

Relying on the evidence adduced by both sides, the IPAB observed that although Societe des Produits Nestle S.A had got the mark, ‘Kit Kat’ registered in 1942, they had been using the trademark outside India since 1935. The applications filed by Nestle before the Indian Registry were in 1987. Further, Nestle produced an export sales invoice that established that they were in fact users since November 1987. As opposed to this, Kit Kat Food Products (manufacturers of the ‘chanachur’) were found to be using the Kit-Kat trademark since 1991. Consequently, the IPAB ruled that Nestle was the prior user of the trademark and not Kit Kat Food Products.

Not only were both the product’s marks similar, the trade channels and the class of consumers were also more or less the same, being children and young persons. Therefore, ruling that Nestle was the rightful owner of the trademark, ‘Kit-Kat’ the IPAB, observed that there was a significant possibility of confusion to be caused in the minds of customers due to Kit Kat Food Products using the said trademark.

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