The trend for retailers’ own-label products to emulate established brands on the market is becoming an increasing concern for brand owners, a legal expert has claimed.
Speaking at Eversheds’ food seminar in London last week, solicitor Birgit Schluckebier said the industry was becoming worried about own-label products that looked like established brands. “They are becoming a real concern in the industry,” she said.
Schluckebier’s comments follow reports earlier this month that drinks company Diageo had settled a dispute with Sainsbury over the similarity of the supermarket’s Pitchers drink to the Pimm’s sold by Diageo. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, it is believed that Sainsbury had agreed to change the design of its products.
Schluckebier was speaking about issues surrounding intellectual property (IP) in food packaging and described how companies could protect their IP rights. She used the recent European Court of Justice ruling on the long-running dispute between two lookalike Spanish olive oil brands Carbonell and La Española to describe the sort of problems firms might encounter.
“We will have to see how that [ECJ ruling] will be viewed by UK courts,” said Schluckebier. But she added: “Most IP disputes are settled out of court.”