Own label copycat brands face EU scrutiny

Supermarkets that produce own-label products that resemble established branded goods, will face closer scrutiny and potential financial penalties after a European Commission report accuses them of “parasitic copying”.

Pitchers and Pimms

The European Commission report on the “parasitic copying” of branded products, has found that lookalike brands “take unfair advantage of the reputation of the products copied and divert sales” and suggests that brand owners suffer sales losses because of what are described as clone brands.

The report, which investigated 27 member states and looked at six nations in depth, found that treatment and laws against lookalike brands are inconsistent across the EU and could amount to a barrier to trade between member states.

The report recommends “harmonisation” across the EU and suggests that cases of “parasitic copying” should be heard in the same courts as trademark infringement and unfair competition claims.

Under current practise in the UK, whether a consumer is confused is of paramount importance, and if a brand imitation does not confuse or mislead the public, it is a perfectly legitimate.

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