Australian chocolate makers lose out to Nestle over trademark
If you thought freckles were just a cute little reminder of summer on your face, then think again. In the world of confectionary giant Nestle, they’re a trademark they’ll fiercely protect against any chocolate-wielding competitors they come up against, as one small Australian company found out to their detriment.
Leanne and Ian Neeland, owners of Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery stores, have been selling more than 20 products using the term ‘freckle’ as part of their branding, with names such as ‘Giant Freckle, Freckled Eggs and Freckle Lollipops. All was fine until Nestle caught wind of their confectionary name choices.
Nestle Says No
You see, Nestle has been using the term “freckles” since way back in the day. Since 1955 in fact. And what’s more, they trademarked that name to describe their hundreds-and-thousands-coated chocolates, so that no other chocolate company could use their branding. When Yarra Valley Chocolaterie did, Nestle were quick to issue a legal notice demanding that they remove the term, which they duly did.
Leanne Neeland voiced objections over Nestle coming along and messing with their business.
‘How can you own freckles? We’ve got freckles on our faces and we’ve been eating freckles for many, many years. We did think about taking Nestle on, but what chance do we have?’
The chance they had is almost none, and they’ve saved themselves a huge amount of money and effort by not fighting it. Plus she also showed a fundamental misconception in her understanding of trademarks. Indeed we have freckles on our faces, which Nestle would be unable to trademark, but when it comes to protecting their brand identity, trademarking a common name purely for that sector, is very common business sense.
It stands to reason. iPhone giant Apple has no right to stop fruit sellers from using the name when selling their delectable green produce, but if you formed a laptop company using the same name, you’d find lawyers breathing down your neck quicker than you could take a bite out of a Grannie Smith.
‘We felt really sad that a big multinational company like that could actually own something that we all love so much,’ said Ms Neeland.
Sad, yes, but when it comes to trademark law, unfortunately – facts don’t care about our feelings.
A Lesson for Taiwan Businesses
One company’s mistake is a lesson others can learn from. Doing your due diligence when forming a company or launching a new line of products or services is vital. In Yarra Valley Chocolaterie’s instance, a proper trademark search would have shown them that it’s not wise to duplicate brand names with a longstanding multi-billion dollar conglomerate.
Similarly, when starting any new venture in Taiwan, a trademark search is vital as a minimum, which we strongly advise swiftly following up on with a trademark application, if you’ve found your name or branding seems to be unique in your sector.
If you’re interested in doing a Taiwan trademark search yourself, here is where you can submit your query:
And if you’re unsure about the intricacies that go into conducting a search, do make sure you check out our comprehensive trademark guide here.
Finally, if you want to remove the hassle completely, we recommend using the services of a trademark agent in Taiwan that will do all the heavy lifting for you, from trademark searches right the way through to filing applications and securing trademarks for you. Here at, MUSA trademark, we are one such company that does exactly that, so feel free to get in touch any time if you have any questions – just head to our contact page.
Nestle might have snapped up ‘freckles’, but there are billions of other opportunities to make a success of your business by trademarking your intellectual property. The key is to search, then apply, without leaving it too late!