Mars appears to have lost a long legal battle to claim EU trademark rights to the colour and form of its Bounty chocolate bar.

The European Court of Justice’ (ECJ) Court of First Instance has rejected an appeal by the food company against the EU’s Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) refusal of registration.

It and German confectioner Ludwig Schokolade argued that the actual chocolate bar itself lacked sufficient “distinctive character” to be trademarked. The court said Mars had not supplied “the required evidence [backing] its argument.”

The case has run since 1998, and will be a legal precedent. Mars claimed that the rounded ends to the elongated rectangular chocolate Bounty bars and its standard three arrows or chevrons on the top “are features which significantly depart from the norms and customs of the relevant sector”.

However, the court ruled that “the average consumer…will perceive those chevrons, at the most, as decorative elements and not as a sign indicating the commercial origin of the product”.

It added that Mars had not proved a similar claim regarding “the rounded ends…”