Copycat debate to hit Parliament

The debate over copycat packaging and product design was heading for Parliament this week. Liberal Democrat MP Colin Breed and minister for consumer affairs Nigel Griffiths have both been briefed by industry groups Anti Copying in Design and the British Brands Group on the issues involved.

Breed is to step into the debate by calling for proposed competition legislation to include clauses banning copycat designs. He is to propose amendments to the parliamentary committee which is compiling the competition bill. He has consulted the BBG and ACID on the proposed amendments.

Breed’s suggestions were due to be heard by the committee on Tuesday, as Design Week went to press. In practice, the proposed amendments are unlikely to be adopted in any legislation, but will ensure discussion of copycat practices in Parliament.

“Fighting copycats isn’t getting any easier, because of the lack of legislation,” says John Noble of the British Brands Group. Breed’s amendments would protect the distinctiveness of packaging, by outlawing “any act or practice which is likely to cause confusion”.

Meanwhile, BBG and ACID have briefed Nigel Griffiths on the copycat issue, providing a list of possible ways of protecting brand owners and designers.

See News Analysis, page 8

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