The British Brands Group (BBG) is to undertake independent research to
prove that shoppers are confused by lookalike products, in the light of
the latest row over spirits brands between Asda and International
Distillers and Vintners (IDV).
In an effort to bolster its argument, the BBG is also to lobby its
members to hand over research currently being used in legal battles.
If the BBG can come up with hard evidence of consumer confusion then new
legislation to outlaw copycat brands might be presented to Parliament.
This is brand owners’ best opportunity to date of getting the law
changed. Shadow consumer affairs minister Nigel Griffiths MP is
consulting brand owners and retailers on the matter, and the Consumers’
Association is gathering evidence to support claims of consumer
John Noble, director of the BBG, is to exert more pressure on brand
owners reluctant to hand over research used to fight legal cases for
fear of raking over the ashes and upsetting retail customers.
‘Now is the time to muster the arguments. If brand owners are not
forthcoming then we will have to get evidence to support our case,’ said
The BBG will try to prove that consumers are buying copycat products
thinking they are actually the brand leader or that they are made by the
If evidence is forthcoming, the Consumers’ Association will recommend
action. Senior public affairs officer Andrew Fisher said: ‘There is a
lot of noise at the moment but until they [the BBG] come up with
evidence we will not change our mind.’
Research conducted by the two bodies over two years ago during the
passage of the Trade Marks Bill was inconclusive because of a wide
disparity in the results.
Consumers’ Association research has shown that just 3% of consumers were
confused, while the BBG found a figure of 21%.
The resulting legislation failed to solve the problem of copycatting and
left the door open for retailers to continue the practice.