Trademarking the chocolate bunny?

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A European court is scheduled today to rule on a request to trademark the chocolate bunny.

Lindt Chocolate of Switzerland already has a European trademark for its Easter rabbit, a foiled hollow chocolate version with Marty Feldman eyes and a pissed expression. In fact, it looks much like the ones I received back in 1955.

The case challenges trademark law's handling of three-dimensional objects. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription), courts have been reluctant to address supposed trademark violations of items such as Lego blocks. Adding this third dimension hugely increases the variables in any trademark.

The suit started when Lindt sued an Austrian chocolatier for producing a similar chocobunny, wearing, like Lindt's, a natty ribbon around its neck. In its defense, the chocolatier pointed out that Germans have been making chocolate rabbits at least since the 1880s, and that the method of manufacturing hollow bunnies (the scourge of children everywhere) dictates a shape similar to Lindt's.

The decision will not be the end of the line for the bunny, however. The case will go back to a lower court for final judgment. This is not expected before Easter of 2010.

In the meantime, candy makers in other countries that do not hold the same trademark standards are likely to see Lindt-like chocolate bunnies multiple like, er, rabbits. In the meantime, they can take my chocolate bunny when they pry the ears out of my dead, cold lips.

Read more: The part of the bunny you eat first says something about your personality. Take this test to learn more.

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