In 1965 Storck (the German manufacturer of Merci) introduces the brilliant idea to market chocolate specifically as a gift. Chocolate for friends to show your gratitude. Therefore all commercials end with the pay-off “Merci, for being you” (or similar slogans in other languages). By using a slogan consequently for a prolonged time, it becomes distinctive, and therefore, the phrase can be registered as trademark.
When Leonidas launches a similar campaign, using the slogan ´because its you´, Merci is not amused and things escalate. De court judges that this slogan is an infringement of the rights on the famous slogan “Merci, for being you”. The slogans are similar to the extent that the public will associate them. The additive ´Leonidas´ does not compensate this.
Recently we saw a similar conflict between beer manufacturer Bavaria and Your Hosting. Bavaria claimed Intellectual property rights on its slogan ‘Zo. Nu eerst’, or ´So. Now first´. In First Instance Bavaria´s claim was granted, but fortunately the court rejected it, stating that the slogan was too commonplace to obtain protection based on Intellectual property rights. Therefore, if a slogan (even if it is commonplace) is of great importance, protect it as a trademark.