Following a recent high-profile BBC (50.12) exposé of cheap look-alike baby bags being sold by supermarket chain ALDI, remarkably similar to those designed by Anti Copying in Design (ACID) member BabaBing, Aldi’s lawyers have announced they will no longer be selling them but without admitting liability.
BabaBing, launched their award-winning “Mani” baby changing backpack in the spring of 2018 but were horrified earlier this year when they discovered Aldi selling a “dead ringer” and under-cutting the BabaBing Mani design by over half as part of a promotion for babies called ‘Specialbuy’.
Dids Macdonald, OBE., ACID’s CEO commenting on the debacle said:
“When copying is alleged in the public domain, many major retailer chains will usually only stop selling the alleged copies if there is some basis for the claim. A typical comment is “without admitting liability” so that they don’t risk their brand reputation as alleged copyists or their client base thinking they are the bad guys.
Producing cheap lookalikes of original products is quite a usual fast track to market by some chains on the back of innovators like, for example, BabaBing. ACID sees too many of these David & Goliath battles. Our message to supermarket chains/high street retailers is “Commission it, Don’t copy it!”. Win, win all round, the chain benefits, the designer benefits, UK design benefits and above all, it’s a big tick in retailer CSR – ethics, compliance and respect for IP.”
ACID has an ongoing campaign called “Spot the Difference” and a policy of naming and shaming especially when “David” innovators find themselves pitted against major brands. It can years to develop a well-known major consumer brand but moments to destroy if there is negative publicity such as alleged copying. Micro and SME designers are the lifeblood of the UK and we must encourage major retail brands to support UK design originality not free-ride on the back of innovation.
There are many who say that IP infringement is a sanitised word for theft.
Nick Robinson, MD of BabaBing said, “I would appeal to Government and the IP Minister to recognise that SME enterprises likes ours simply cannot cope with major retail chains riding rough shod over innovative companies like BaBaBing. Whilst Government says it has the best IP legal system in the world this is not matched by cost & time effective means of legal redress when battling with the deep legal pockets of major retail chains. Dids Macdonald’s plea for IP respect in CSR should not go unnoticed.”
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