In a ground breaking decision in June the courts held that if goods are packaged like other goods then, even if no consumers are confused into thinking the goods are those of the rival company, a claim for breach of trade marks can be made. L’Oreal found its packaging was copied and took the sellers to court.
Philip Astles a partner in Kidd Rapinet says:
“Many companies in Europe will now have to reassess their packaging. Go into any supermarket and you will see famous brand products and the “look-a-likes” which mimic the style or brand and colours of the famous products. Until now many of them have got away with this as it did not come close enough to amount to passing off or breach of trade mark. Now the European Court of Justice has held that this type of copying does breach EU trade marks law. They said it amounted to taking “unfair advantage” of the other brand, which is illegal under the EU trade marks directive. In this case perfumes made by competitor Bellure and sold by Malaika Investments and Starion International were too close to L’Oréal’s packaging.”
As well as copying packaging the defendants had issued a list of their perfumes which showed which products of L’Oreal’s theirs smelled most like. This was also found to breach the rules on comparative advertising and trade marks.
Many companies are now re-evaluating their litigation strategies and considering how their products are packaged and sold in the light of this ruling. If you either have concerns about the products you sell or believe you may now have stronger grounds to stop a competitor copy your products contact us for advice by calling Philip Astles on 01753 532541.