July 2017. UK discount store Poundland’s new Twin Peaks chocolate bar has upset Mondelez, the company behind Toblerone. According to Mondelez, the triangular bar consisting of chocolate blocks in the form of two mountain peaks very closely resembles its own single-peak Toblerone.
Reaction Mondelez’ move
Poundland CEO Barry Williams defended the copycat action in a press release, saying the introduction of Twin Peaks was simply a reaction to changes made to the Toblerone bar in the UK. At the end of 2016, Mondelez widened the space between the chocolate triangles on two types of Toblerone bars, meaning consumers were getting less chocolate for the same money. Cost-conscious customers at Poundland, where Toblerone is also on sale, immediately cottoned on to the shrinkflation move. ‘That’s why we’ve created a new £1 alternative for them – the size they wanted, with a British taste, and with all the spaces in the right places’, Williams said.
The traditional Toblerone bar (left) and the pared-down UK version (right)
According to the budget retailer, the shape of the Twin Peaks bar has nothing to do with Toblerone. Poundland took its inspiration from the double hump on Wrekin Hill in the county of Shropshire, it said. Mondelez doesn’t accept the explanation and has threatened legal action, forcing Poundland to postpone the mid-July launch of Twin Peaks.
Mondelez owns various European trademark rights to the Toblerone bar’s triangular shape. So we’re keen to see if the company’s brave enough to use them in the struggle, given that the last few years shape marks have come under sustained fire in Europe. The European Court of Justice doesn’t care for them and has regularly thrown out previously registered shape marks, as chocolate companies have found to their cost. Mondelez’ rival Nestlé, for instance, has been locked in a bitter struggle to protect the shape of its well-known KitKat bar since 2002.
This article was published in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant