Angry British chocolate-lovers have vented their anger at a lawsuit brought by Hershey's, which effectively bars the import of chocolates made in the U.K. by Cadbury—a British brand well-loved by expats.
Using the hashtag #boycotthershey, fans of Cadbury products, such as the iconic Dairy Milk bars and Cadbury Creme Eggs, called for a boycott of the American chocolate giant on Twitter and Facebook. A protest petition on MoveOn.org had over 22,000 signatures by 1 p.m. GMT on Wednesday.
It comes after Hershey's, which holds a license to manufacture Cadbury chocolates in the U.S., agreed on a settlement with the New-Jersey-based importer of Cadbury chocolates, Let's Buy British (LBB). As first reported in The New York Times, Hershey's accused the company of infringing its brand trademark rights and importing U.K. products that were not intended for sale in the U.S.
Last week, LBB agreed to stop shipments of any Cadbury products made in the U.K. to the U.S.—much to the consternation of many expat Brits, who insist that Cadbury chocolate tastes better (despite Cadbury being owned by U.S. food giant Kraft Foods' snacks business Mondelez).
It is true that British and American chocolate are different in terms of constitution. To qualify as chocolate in the U.K., a product must contain at least 20 percent cocoa solids; in the U.S., the minimum is 10 percent.
Cadbury products are not the only ones to fall fowl of Hershey's lawsuit, with other brands—in particular, Switzerland's Nestle—also coming under fire because they look like existing Hershey's products.
Toffee Crisps, which are made by chocolate giant Nestle in the U.K and are a favorite with the British public, have also been banned because their bright orange packaging resembles that of Hershey's Peanut Butter Cups too closely. Nestle's Yorkie bars also face the chop as they sound too much like Hershey's York Peppermint Patties. Nestle's Maltesers also resemble a Hershey's product of an almost identical name.
Hershey's spokesman Jeff Beckman defended Hershey's lawsuit and settlement, telling The New York Times last week that it was: "Important for Hershey to protect its trademark rights and to prevent consumers from being confused or misled when they see a product name or product package that is confusingly similar to a Hershey name or trade dress."
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