Personalizing To A Branded Product

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Personalizing To A Branded Product

Post by Jac »


New to the forum so sorry if this has been asked before.

So the situation I have is that I am a small business owner and one of the products I sell is a Cadbury chocolate bar with a paper sleeve over it that customers can add a name to and a custom message.

Now this sleeve does feature the Cadbury logo and icon and then goes over the Cadbury bar and is sold as such. It is listed as a personalized handmade item and that the Cadbury bar is still sealed and unaltered its only the paper sleeve that I have added.

Now today I had a message from a blank account lightly threatening me that they work with Cadbury and will report me if I don't delete the item and that my shop will be shut down etc.

I'm a little confused weather to take that seriously because surely Cadbury would be happy as every item I sell means another sale for them.

My other thought was do I just remove the logo from my paper sleeve and just have it as plain purple.

So in short just wondering if this person can cause me hassle or is just another seller trying to make me back off what he sells

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Re: Personalizing To A Branded Product

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Jac,

There are two separate parts of intellectual property law we need to consider here.

The first is trade mark law. A trade mark like the word Cadburys (and indeed roughly 1000 other word and figurative marks owned by Cadbury Ltd UK, including at one time*, the purple colour associated with Cadburys Dairy Milk) is intended to distinguish the goods of one manufacturer from those of another so that the public is not deceived as to the origin of something they would like to buy. So if you had put your Cadburys branded label on product made by, say, Mars, then that would be trade mark infringement. However since you are using your wrapper on a genuine Cadbury product there is no infringement. There may be in existence some other term of business by which Cadburys wish to control how their products are marketed but you would have need to have been made aware of that before you started selling their products (presumably via a wholesaler).

The second aspect concerns copyright in any logo, including the familiar word Cadburys in a stylised script. Generally speaking you may not copy or distribute anything which is protected by copyright without permission, and if this 'threatening' message was genuinely from Cadburys or one of their agents, then this may well be the grounds for their objection. However it rather sounds from the wording of the message that this has nothing to do with Cadburys, as only the copyright owner can demand that you cease copying their intellectual property. As you say, most manufacturers would support genuine promotional attempts to sell more of their products as long as it didn't bring their brand into disrepute, although this is not quite the same as having substantive permission to copy their logos. Removing the stylised word Cadburys or Cadburys Dairy Milk logo etc will certainly get you off the hook, if you feel there is a chance this may be a genuine objection, but I think that you are right to suspect that this is an unauthorised intervention by a third party without the sanction of Cadburys.

*Cadburys had to surrender the mark consisting of the colour purple after an objection by Nestlé was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2013.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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