July 24, 2020

Did you know you can patent the shape of a food?

Yes, you can patent a shape.

A warning to our German readers: If you create a square chocolate bar, Ritter Sport is going to bury you.

We know this because one brave company tried it. Back in 2010, when rival chocolate giant Milka decided to cut its confections into squares, Ritter Sport took them to court.

This week, after a decade of lawsuits, Ritter Sport won out — fair and very square.

Because cocoa fanatics link the shape with the “quality” of Ritter, the judges ruled, all other brands are barred from those sweet, sweet equilateral bars.

Shape patents come full circle

Ritter Sport says its chocolate squares date as far back as 1932. But they didn’t actually hit shelves until the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The square shape is at the heart of Ritter’s identity — its slogan translates to “quality, chocolate, squared.” In 1993, it secured a patent.

The legal tussle might be over, but it was pretty rich from the get-go. Milka has some surprising patents of its own stashed away — for years, it has laid legal claim to the lilac on its packaging.

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