§ Dame Peggy Fenner
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the consultation exercise his Department has been carrying out on the subject of lookalikes in the context of the Trade Marks Bill.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The consultation exercise was carried out via the Standing Advisory Committee on Industrial Property, because this afforded a readily available mechanism for seeking the views of those with experience in this field. The consultation was not, however, restricted to members of SACIP, and comments were received from others, including the British Producers and Brand Owners Group and individual companies.
The overwhelming majority of the views received was against taking action in the Bill. Many made the point that this is not a trade marks issue, as the main characteristic of a lookalike product is that it does not copy a trade mark. This is also the Government's view.
There was a widespread feeling among those who commented that—compared with other countries—there may be an issue of unfair competition to be addressed. The Government believe, however, that the Bill, which broadens the definition of what may be registered as a trade mark and also widens the rights conferred, will improve the position by allowing shapes and distinctive packaging to be registered, and should be given a chance to work. If, once the Bill has been in force for a reasonable period, brand owners can demonstrate that there continues to be a problem, the Government would be prepared to look again at the situation.