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Swiss chocolate company gets Easter relief

By Rashmi Kumar

Family-controlled chocolate maker Lindt & Sprungli won a long court battle on 4 April to uphold rights on its golden Easter bunnies.

According to reports, Lindt & Sprungli, controlled by a branch of the founding Sprungli family, took action against Austrian rival Hauswirth, which it said was making chocolate bunnies that were too similar in appearance to its own copyrighted trademark bunnies. It claimed that the Hauswirth's Easter bunnies can be confused for Lindt chocolates as both are wrapped in gold foil with a red ribbon.

The case, first registered in 2006, finally came to a close with the court favouring the Switzerland-based Lindt's appeal. Reports say that the court ordered Hauswirth to stop making its chocolate bunnies in gold.

Lindt & Sprungli was founded in 1845 as a confectionary shop by the father-son team of David Sprungli-Schwarz and Rudolf Sprungli-Ammann. After Rudolf's retirement, the business was divided between his two sons – younger son David Robert received two confectionary stores which he expanded independently as Confiserie Sprungli, while older son Johann Rudolf received the chocolate factory and named it Lindt & Sprungli.

Both groups remain under the control of two different family branches. Confiserie Sprungli is now headed by sixth-generation family members Tomas and Milan Prenosil.

The chocolate business Lindt & Sprungli currently has non-family Ernst Tanner as its chairman. He succeeded fifth-generation Rudolf Sprungli who was the group head from 1971 to 1994, and who died in 2008 aged 88. His son, also named Rudolf, is a part of the company's board.

Lindt & Sprungli had 2010 revenues of €1.96 billion, up from €1.92 billion in 2009.

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