The golden shade of the wrapping used by Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli for its bunnies has trademark protection, a top German court has ruled.

The company had earlier taken a German chocolate maker, Heilemann, to court after it also started selling bunnies in gold wrapping in 2018.

A regional court ruled in Heilemann's favour, but Lindt appealed and the case went to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), Germany's highest court of civil and criminal jurisdiction.

The Swiss firm submitted market research showing that around 70% of consumers associate the golden wrapping specifically with its bunnies, the BGH said in a statement.

This level of recognition "clearly exceeds the required threshold of 50%" for trademark status, it argued.

A court will now re-examine the case against Heilemann.

It must decide how likely it is that consumers would confuse the Lindt bunny with other chocolate bunnies, based on their shape and other features as well as their colour.

Lindt's gold bunny is by far the best-selling chocolate bunny in Germany, with a market share of 40%.

It has been wrapped in gold foil since 1952 and the exact shade of the wrapping has remained unchanged since 1994.

Lindt had previously failed to secure trademark status for its Easter bunny based on other features, such as its shape and red collar.