World-famous U.S. chocolate brand, Hershey’s, insists that Ukrainian chocolate maker, AnyKiss, is a profit pirate. Specifically, the Pennsylvania chocolatier is not pleased about the European company’s name and domain choices.
Let’s jump into this online intellectual property Internet law case.
Hershey’s KISS Cybersquatting Case
Since 1907, Hershey has had an intellectual property lock on KISSES. But about three years ago, according to Hershey’s lawsuit, AnyKiss started infringing on the trademark, most blatantly with the domain kisschocalaterie.com.
Now, you may be thinking: Who cares if a chocolate company in a country halfway around the world uses the word “kiss”! But au contraire mon frère, turns out that AnyKiss was making U.S. market moves.In fact, the company tried to formally register a KISS CHOCOLATERIE mark with the U.S. Patent Office in 2016. But the agency rejected the application “based on confusion with [Hershey’s] KISSES marks.”
At one point, AnyKiss even “reached out to Hershey representatives in an effort to ‘partner’…by selling authorized…products in its shop.” But Hershey was not feeling the candy kumbaya and “declined to accept the invitation” adding that it did “not wish to partner with (AnyKiss) in any capacity.”
Legal Talk: What Law Governs Cybersquatting?
The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act anchors this case. It’s the law prohibiting parties from using confusingly similar domains to parasitically profit off established brands’ reputations.
So, the case rests in the hands of Judge Yvette Kane. She must decide whether or not AnyKiss was intentionally trying to confuse consumers by co-opting kisschocalaterie.com. If she finds it did, AnyKiss will likely have to dismantle the website, surrender it to Hershey, and “disgorge all ill-gotten gains.”
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