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Lawsuit fallout affects California chocolate fans

In a case that might have had far-reaching ramifications for chocolate lovers in California, the famous chocolate mogul, Hershey, claimed in August that a New Jersey company, LBB imports, infringed on their trademark. LBB focuses on high-end chocolates from overseas countries, including England. Hershey filed a lawsuit against LBB alleging a trademark violation but later dropped the lawsuit after LBB agreed to stop importing the brands in question. Sources say that distributors of the specialty confections, most notably Cadbury English-made chocolates, are unhappy with the decision.

One New York-based store that carries the unique brand took their complaints to social media, claiming that their competitor suggested they substitute the type of Cadbury chocolate that is widely available for distribution across the U.S. However, they rejected the idea as they said the other product did not compare in quality to what was sold in England and then imported to the U.S.

Hershey further claimed that the packaging of England's Toffee Crisp chocolates bore a close resemble to that of their trademarked Reese's cups. However, Kit Kat and Rolo candies, while made in the U.K., were exempt from the lawsuit because of a distribution agreement between the companies. A Hershey representative indicated that one of the reasons the company focused on brand protection was because of the high recognition of the packaging.

Legal ramifications of intellectual property disputes can be complex and challenging to resolve. In similar cases, a business law attorney might be able to help clients defend their rights and protect their products.

Source: CNN Money, "Hershey lawsuit angers fans of British chocolate in U.S.," Ben Rooney, Jan. 23, 2015

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