Consumers are mostly on autopilot while shopping and this is where copycat packaging comes it. To this day, copycat packaging is still tricking shoppers in-store and online. Retailers are continuing to mislead their customers by designing similar packaging to a popular product or well-known brand. Using eye-tracking technology in a research by British Brands Group, the study monitored the time shoppers took to find products, the accuracy of decision-making and the participants’ recall of the products they had seen.

Results showed that up to 20 percent of the time the ‘copycat’ product was mistaken for the brand, and increased to 64 percent when only the copycat version was present. The director of British Brands Group, John Noble, explained that this kind of misleading packaging is unlawful but goes unchallenged in the UK. “We devote seconds to each [choice] and rely on shortcuts to make our choices. Products in similar packaging prey on this, prompting mistakes and encouraging false assumptions.”

“Another brand is copying me, what can I do?” Reach out to the company and ask them to stop their activity before taking any action*. Make sure it’s in an email or written letter.

Trademark your packaging or brand. Trademark law provides extra protection for trademarks with a reputation, which allows owners to prevent third parties using their trademarks where such use leads to an unfair advantage over or a detrimental effect on the trademark design. However, in order to qualify for this ‘extra protection’ you need to show that your trademark is known by a significant part of the public. No, you don’t have to show that the public would potentially confuse or be unable to distinguish the two brands or products. However, you can show that the relevant demographic would make a link between the trademarked design and the competitor’s one.

*Specialist advice should always be sought before making contact with a competitor.