Recently, Hershey blocked Cadbury's products from being imported to the United States by reaching a settlement with Let’s Buy British Imports, or L.B.B. These agreements forced L.B.B. to stop exporting Cadbury chocolates made overseas to the United States.

Hershey owns the rights to manufacture Cadbury’s products in the U.S., and has owned it since 1988, when Cadbury decided that Hershey’s could better manage the business in the U.S.  A Hershey’s representative stated that Hershey has the rights to manufacture the chocolate by using a different recipe, thus the importing of the British chocolate is an infringement on Hershey’s rights. Hershey made the decision to prevent importing the goods from overseas because of the packaging of Cadbury’s products. For example, Cadbury’s Toffee Crisps are packaged in an orange package with yellow-lined brown script, which resembles Hershey’s Reese’s peanut Butter Cups.

The question coming into play is if Hershey has overstepped boundaries by preventing the original British Cadbury’s from being imported, or if they were protecting their own trademark and ownership rights. The broader question for international trade is when does protecting one's rights cross the line and begin to prohibit free trade and competition?

If companies can prevent the import and export of goods into other nations, it could drastically change the landscape of global business. Although the company would be protecting its own financial success, there could be a negative impact on other companies and countries as well. Some companies would flounder financially as they would lose market-space, and countries would lose the rich diversity of goods and services in the existing markets. Overall, a few companies would start to monopolize the market space, and consumers would be left with fewer choices of goods and services.

Although companies should have the right to protect their goods from infringement, how far can companies go without negatively impacting global trade?

Share this article