The Labour Party is to draw up new policy guidelines on brand lookalikes, following persistent lobbying by brand manufacturers.
Nigel Griffiths, Labour’s spokesman on advertising and consumer affairs, says he will be canvassing opinions on lookalikes from all sections of the trade, including retailers. This follows complaints from British manufacturers that they are losing out because of inadequate legal safeguards.
“At this stage, Labour has no plans; Labour is consulting. We are neutral on this issue. But we will be making our views clear in a policy statement before the next election,” says Griffiths. He adds he is about to begin the consultation process with a visit to the British Retail Consortium.
Some brand manufacturers want toughened legislation against lookalikes in response to what they regard as retailers’ continuing abuse of their market position. They favour reform along European lines. In Germany, for example, plagiarism provides sufficient grounds for litigation. In Britain, the Trade Mark law, though recently modified, is comparatively weak.
Recently, the lookalikes controversy reached new levels of bitterness after Tesco launched a range of own-label cereals, made by the Cereal Partnership. The Tesco packaging closely resembles that of Kellogg (MW October 25). Kellogg, Tesco and Nestlé, which jointly owns the Cereal Partnership with General Mills, have all subscribed to the Institute of Grocery Distribution code of conduct, which was supposed to diffuse disputes of this kind.