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The European Court of Justice on Thursday sent back to British courts a dispute between candy bar makers Nestle SA and Mars Inc. over Nestle’s request to trademark the slogan “have a break” for its Kit Kat bars. Judges at the European Union’s high court said the case should be reassessed in Britain to see whether “have a break” could be considered distinctive enough to receive a trademark. Nestle uses the phrase to support its Kit Kat bars in Britain with the slogan “Have a Break … Have a Kit Kat,” which already is protected. The Swiss chocolate giant wants to extend that to the partial slogan. Nestle applied in 1995 to have the “Have a Break” phrase registered for all chocolate products. Rival Mars objected. The EU court said it could not approve a trademark application. “It is for the national court to determine whether the mark ‘Have a Break’ has come to identify the product or service concerned,” said the court. It suggested British courts look at the global impact of approving such a partial slogan, “how intensive, geographically widespread and long-standing use of the mark has been, the amount invested by the undertaking in promoting the mark,” and hear from more business experts as to the impact of such a license. The EU court suggested the trademarking of the partial slogan must have a “distinctive character” by which consumers can easily relate to the Kit Kat bar. Nestle had wanted the case to be sent back to Britain to assess the basis of the case. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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