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The Slow Death of Innovation

This week I came across another story to strike fear into hearts of designers of innovative products sold in supermarkets in the UK.  Aldi are accused of copying a changing bag designed and sold by Bababing, a British company producing high quality products for babies.

Both I and the Managing Director of Bababing, Nick Robinson appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show to discuss Aldi’s behaviour and what can be done to stop large companies ripping off SMEs in this manner.

Having seen both products side by side it appears Aldi consciously chose to replicate pretty much every detail of Bababing’s changing bag and, in doing so, infringe their design rights. Bababing wrote to Aldi who, having sold out of the product, agreed not to sell any more but refused to apologise or offer any compensation. Understandably, Bababing are furious that their hard work has been undermined and sales have been lost. Nick’s argument is that Aldi’s actions will make them think twice about spending so much time and money on innovative products in the future and the financial damage they have suffered could mean they don’t have the resources to do so in any event.

This incident is not unique with supermarkets increasingly thinking they can ride roughshod over the intellectual property rights of brand owners, and this is a concern. The longer this behaviour is allowed to go unchecked, the greater the damage it will have on innovation in the UK.

In my next blog I shall provide some guidance on how businesses can best protect their intellectual property. Stay tuned.

Is your pitch safe?

I thought I would write a cautionary blog about a recent decision concerning the misuse of confidential information.

The case concerned two individuals, Brian Wade and Geraldine Perry who in 2009 pitched an idea for a new reality music show called The Real Deal to Sky. Instead of singers singing cover versions as in the X Factor, the Real Deal would feature the contestants singing their own compositions. Contestants were to be invited to the audition stage and whittled down to a winner who would receive a record contract. Another key idea was the songs being made available for download soon after being performed. During the pitch Wade and Perry provided Sky with a “deck” of PowerPoint slides which encapsulated their ideas. Despite the pitch being well received Sky rejected the idea.

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