Fur flies in battle of the chocolate bunnies

Tue Apr 5, 2011 3:40pm EDT
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VIENNA (Reuters Life!) - An Austrian chocolate company vowed on Tuesday to appeal a ruling by a Vienna court that stops it from producing Easter bunnies resembling those made by Switzerland's Lindt & Spruengli.

Austria's Hauswirth has been locked in a seven-year battle with larger confectioner Lindt over the chocolate figures. Both chocolatiers make the distinctive sitting bunny shapes wrapped in gold foil with a red ribbon bow tie.

Lindt says Hauswirth's bunnies are a knock-off of their own version and violate its EU trademark. It won the case blocking production at a trade court last week but the Austrian company says the bitter chocolate battle will go on. "We are going to file an appeal because we continue to believe in our legal case and the rule of law," company chief Roman Hauswirth said in a statement.

Hauswirth has argued Lindt is using its trademark to quash competition unfairly. It argues that chocolate bunnies traditionally come wrapped in gold foil and that it is normal for the shapes to look similar as they are based on animals.

Lindt was not available for comment.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>A Maitre Chocolatier of Lindt &amp; Spruengli poses with gold-wrapped Easter bunnies during the annual news conference in Zurich March 17, 2009. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>