A WRANGLE over the shape of a world-famous chocolate bar has left a York company in a baffling predicament.

Nestlé tried to register the shape of the four-finger KitKat as a trademark with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), after Cadbury laid claim to the design in 2006.

This week the IPO announced Nestlé had failed to register the shape, and upheld Cadbury’s opposition.

However, the Community Trade Mark Office (CTMO), which decides trademarks throughout all 28 member states of the European Union, had previously ruled the opposite, saying the four-finger shape should be “exclusively associated” with Nestlé’s product.

The decision means the shape of the KitKat is trademarked in the UK – and yet is not.

A Nestlé spokeswoman said: “The UK is the birthplace of KitKat and we are assessing whether to appeal. KitKat was launched more than 75 years ago and is one of the most iconic shapes of any chocolate bar, recognised around the world.

“In December last year, Nestlé won an EU ruling on the validity of their EU-wide trademark registration for the four-finger KitKat shape, so we are perplexed and disappointed with this national decision by the UK Intellectual Property Office.”

In its evidence, Nestlé said it had spent between £3 million and £11 million each year between 1996 and 2007 promoting KitKat, and between £850,000 and £4.4 million between 2008 and 2010.

Lee Curtis, a trademark lawyer at Harrison Goddard Foote, said the IPO decision would be “worrisome” for Nestlé, and he expected an appeal.

He said: “This decision is a setback for Nestlé in attempting to monopolise and thus stopping any other traders from marketing chocolate in the shape of a KitKat bar in the UK.

“This was no doubt one of the driving forces behind Cadbury’s decision to oppose Nestlé’s application to register the shape of the KitKat bar in the UK.

“It seems likely that Nestlé will appeal this decision, particularly as perversely Nestlé was recently successful in fighting off an attempt by Cadbury to cancel an EU-wide registration for the same shape of KitKat bar.”