The Coca-Cola bottle will become the first shape to win trademark registration later this week. It will be followed in the coming months by a flood of other product shapes, smells, sounds and colours seeking commercial protection under the Trade Marks Act.
The Act came into force last November, but trademark specialists claim it does not give enough protection to brand owners, dubbing it a “half-way house”.
“Until it is tested in court, the trademark owners and lawyers will not be convinced that it gives protection,” says Interbrand managing director Janet Fogg.
“It doesn’t deter unfair competition where specific features of shape, smell, sound or colour are not copied and it doesn’t prevent a situation with a lookalike.”
Ironically, the first registration comes as the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) puts the finishing touches to a code of practice on copycat products.
The IGD has been acting as an arbitrator between the British Producers Brand Owners Group, demanding protection from copycat products, and retailers accused of hijacking manufacturers marketing spend.
Coca-Cola is understood to be launching a new bottle design for its Sprite soft drink in the UK. US design firm Kornick Lindsay designed the bottle which features 3D bubbles on its surface. The new-look bottles are already on sale in the US and it is understood Coke is rolling out the design globally. The firm is understood to be test-marketing the design in several markets, including the UK. It had been rumoured that Coke intended to use the raised bubble design on its Coke cans but it denies this.