HC Deb 11 July 1961 vol 644 cc196-7
25. Mr. Wade

asked the President of the Board of Trade in view of the dangers due to a close similarity in appearance and to a similarity in the trade mark registered in respect of a nonalcoholic drink and one registered in respect of a cleansing preparation which is harmful to health if consumed, what regulations he proposes to make to safeguard the public, and children in particular, from serious, and possibly fatal, illness resulting from consumption of the contents of a bottle intended for cleansing.

27. Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that a lemonade is now being marketed under a name almost identical to that of a detergent; and what regulations he proposes to make to prevent confusion which might result in the poisoning of children.

Mr. Maudling

These are registered trade-marks in respect of goods of different descriptions. I am advised that, in these circumstances, the Registrar cannot remove either trade mark from the Register except by order of the court or at the request of their owners.

Mr. Wade

As the right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to look at the correspondence which I sent to him, may I ask him if he would agree that a detergent known as Sundrops could very easily be mistaken by a child for a soft drink known as Sundrop, especially when both are sold in the same type of bottle? Is he satisfied that Section 12 of the Trade Marks Act, 1938, or any other existing legislation, provides adequate safeguards for the general public against a danger of this kind, and will he therefore treat this as a matter of some urgency?

Mr. Maudling

I am not entirely happy about this situation, and I will certainly look at it again. I examined both bottles this morning, and in the shape of the bottle, the label, the colour of the contents and the bouquet and aroma, I found that there was a distinctive difference. Nevertheless, I agree that there is something worth looking into.

Mr. Mallalieu

Would the right hon. Gentleman treat this matter a little bit more seriously? Is he not aware from his own experience of the infinite capacity of children to get hold of things that are not intended for them? Is there not a serious danger here of confusion, and will he check the regulations to see if he can stop this kind of thing now?

Mr. Maudling

I have taken it seriously. I am aware from personal experience of the danger of children getting hold of things which are left in places where they should not be allowed to get at them. Having examined these two bottles, I think there is a difference which should be apparent even to the youngest child. However, I have said that I am not happy about the situation, and I will look at it further.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I, too, have had correspondence on this matter, and that there is considerable disquiet about it in the West Riding? Surely, something should be done. Children do not look at the colour. They take a bottle and if they think it is a drink it is immaterial what colour it is. Is there not some reason why the Board of Trade should act quickly in this matter? May I ask him further why it is that when a second trade mark of this kind is registered, his Department does not look at it more closely in order to make sure that there is no ambiguity about what is being sold?

Mr. Maudling

In regard to the second question, the Act prohibits the registration of identical or resembling trade marks in respect of goods of the same description. There is no power in the Act to deal with similar trade marks for goods of a quite different description. I have said I am not altogether happy about it, and I will look at it further, but if a child is incapable of distinguishing between brown and translucent liquids, probably it is not able to read the label on the bottle.

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