Makers of Japanese snack Pocky claim Korean snack ripped off its packaging design, and it’s hard to disagree

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RocketNews 24:

You might expect working at one of Japan’s largest candy makers means every day at the office is filled with smiles, sunshine, and sentiments as sweet as the products they sell. But the management at Osaka-based Glico’s mood is downright sour these days, as the company claims rival Lotte’s new product is such a thinly veiled copy of one of Glico’s hits that it’s a slap in the face.

The company is in no mood to let this one slide, either, which is understandable since some say Lotte has been ripping off Glico for more than 30 years.

Even if you’re not familiar with the entire Glico product lineup, if you’ve spent time in Japan, browsed through the snack food aisle of an Asian supermarket, or even watched much anime, odds are you’ve seen Pocky, the chocolate-covered candy sticks the company has been selling since 1966.

 

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Pocky has enjoyed widespread popularity for decades. It seems it didn’t just catch the eye of chocolate lovers, though, but also of product planners at Lotte, the conglomerate founded in Japan but with the majority of its operations now in South Korea. In 1983, Lotte rolled out a product called Pepero in the Korean market, and whether or not you think the idea of “chocolate-covered sticks” constitutes a defensible intellectual property, you have to admit the packaging is kind of a rip off.

▼ Pocky on the left, Pepero on the right

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With over three decades having passed since its launch, it’s likely too late for Glico to do anything to halt Pepero sales now. Thankfully, the questionable competition hasn’t broken Glico, as the company continues to do well. One of its recent hits is an upscale offshoot of the Pocky formula called Baton d’Or. Available exclusively at Osaka department stores, the candy is differentiated from plain old Pocky by its thicker sticks and special buttery, chocolate coating. It’s such a hit that customers regularly line up ahead of time to get their hands on some before the day’s batch is sold out, even though it’s quite a bit more expensive than Pocky at 501 yen (US $4.25) a box.

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Speaking of boxes, here’s what the box looks like for Lotte’s fancier version of Pepero, called Premier Pepero.

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Well isn’t that a coincidence? Or it would be, if it weren’t for the fact that Baton d’Or has been available since October of 2013, and Premier Pepero was just unveiled in Korea in November of 2014.

Not surprisingly, Glico’s executives and lawyers see more than a passing resemblance in Lotte’s tall package that features a kink halfway up the box, wavy line separating a field of white from a contrasting color, and single upright stick depicted on the front. And though imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, Glico has responded to the unsolicited compliment not with a cheerful “Thank you,” but with a stern lawsuit filed in Korean court seeking to bar the sale of Premier Pepero.

While Glico has confirmed bringing the matter to court, the company has declined to comment further on the issue at this time. If successful, the lawsuit could also give a sense of satisfaction to other Japanese food and beverage companies that have felt the sting of Korean treats that are a little too close for comfort in packaging design to their own, including Meiji’s Kinoko no Yama mushroom-shaped chocolates…

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Otsuka’s Calorie Mate nutrition bars…

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Kirin’s Amino Supli sports drink (not to be confused with Korea’s Amino Up)…

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…and Meiji’s own Pocky-like Fran, seen here with ironically named Korean imitator Friend.

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Really, some of these are so blatantly cases of one copying the other that it’s hard to look at them and not find yourself craving a little justice…and also a whole lot of candy.

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Five special edition snacks for entrance exam prep in Japan

 

RocketNews 24: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 6.38.26 AMExam season in Japan is brutal. Not only do college hopefuls have to study in order to get into the university of their dreams, those hoping to go to high school also have to endure a rigorous examination process as compulsory education in Japan ends with junior high. As thousands of anxious students slave away at their desks until late at night, only to wake up, go to school, then study all over again, many companies in Japan have released special edition examination season versions of popular snacks in order to ease the torture of studying, if not for a brief moment. Let’s take a look at —- new packages, flavors, and designs of these exam season snacks.

Koala no Machi

Special Edition Koala

The adorable little koalas in Lotte’s Koala no Machi chocolate snacks have some new friends in honor of entrance exam season…14 of them to be exact.

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Each koala in the “Aim for Success” special edition packaging represents a different aspect of exam season. You may be confused as to why a sleeping koala holding on to a tree branch symbolizes studying for a test, but the makers of Koala no Machi claim, “A koala doesn’t fall from the tree even when it’s sleeping,” encouraging students to eat, sleep, and breathe their exam prep. Other symbols include a koala dressed as a daruma, a traditional Japanese good luck charm, a “new student” koala, and various koalas holding signs of encouragement. The back of the package also has a picture of an Omamori, or good luck charm, which is often bought at temples to help students prepare for and pass their exam.

▼ Here you can see the Omamori on the left and four images of the actual “Aim for Success” koalas.Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 1.40.35 AM

Kameda Kaki no Tane

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A favorite bar snack among many beer enthusiasts in Japan, Kameda Kaki no Tane have been given a coffee infusion and name change in honor of exam season. The kaki of Kaki no Tane has been changed to kachi, the Japanese word for victory and the usually plain peanuts have been given a crunchy coffee coating to better help students stay focused while studying.

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The package was also changed to be able to stand straight up on a student’s desk and doesn’t fall over easily, just like the daruma good luck charm.

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Yuki Daifuku

Yukimi Daifuku

There are some snacks that are simply destined to become good luck charms for students studying for a big test. Yukimi Daifuku, with the word fuku, the Japanese word for “good fortune,” tucked right at the end, is one of those snacks. Although not intended specifically for students, the bold yellow “fuku” on the package was originally meant as a way to bring good fortune to all people in Japan. However, with their entire futures on the line, students studying for the entrance exam have adopted this delicious ice cream snack as a small way to get an edge on the competition. Yukimi Daifuku is also only available during winter time around the New Year, the same time students start to seriously study for the entrance exam, making it a natural choice for hungry studiers across Japan.

Kit Kat

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Perhaps the original good luck food for entrance exam students in Japan, Kit Kats are eaten and given as gifts by the thousands this time of year. The snack is pronounced kitto katsu in Japanese, which also means “you will surely win,” making it a favorite of superstitious test takers. This year, Nestle Japan is selling a 14 pack of mini Kit Kat bars with various good luck saying printed on them such as “Cherry blossoms bloom in your future” and helpful facts such as “Columbus discovered America in 1492″ and “100°C=373K”.

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Happy Turn

Happy Turn Cracker

Popular cracker, Happy Turn, sprinkled with secret “Happy Powder” has been turned into a good luck charm for test takers in a pink cherry blossom bag with phrases such as “You’re going to pass!” and “Happy examination episode.” Special heart-shaped crackers are also hidden in some packages, giving some lucky snackers an extra happy boost.

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When it comes down to it, no matter how many good luck snacks a test taker consumes, no additional knowledge is going to be imprinted in their brain. But at least these sweet, savory and otherwise cute snacks will serve as a morale booster for students across Japan who have been studying nonstop for months in hopes for a passing grade.

Source: Naver Matome

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Five special edition snacks for entrance exam prep in Japan

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Japanese food company Lotte releases Cookies-and-Cream Mochi ice cream

You know those delicious mochi ice cream treats that are chewy mochi on the outside and ice cream on the inside and you can eat them in two bites and they are perfect?

Japanese food company Lotte released a cookies-and-cream version yesterday…

Check out this link:

Japanese food company Lotte releases Cookies-and-Cream Mochi ice cream

Mochi