With sales of its Poachpod silicone egg poacher now topping 2.5m, distributor JWP’s chairman Jim Wilkinson has called for stronger laws to counter what he says is blatant infringement of product design in the housewares industry.
Wilkinson claims that almost all the companies and products JWP represents in the UK – which include the highly-successful Lock & Lock food storage range – are now subject to product copying. The Poachpod has been targeted more than once.
“Manufacturers spend an enormous amount of money developing new products, instigating design, preparing expensive tools and patent protection, not to mention the incremental promotional costs,” he told HousewaresLive.net. “And yet organisations who have invested comparatively nothing unfairly take commercial advantage. We suffer from the actions of copyists too, although less so than the manufacturer.
“In my opinion, the intellectual property law, not only in the UK, but throughout the world needs strengthening to deter what I must term as theft. Somebody recently argued with me on the description of theft. To me this is exactly what it is. If an organisation copies a design without permission, what else can you call it?”
He went on: “Virtually all of the manufacturers we represent in the UK suffer from the copyists’ unfair behaviour. They profit unfairly, and manufacturers and distributors unfairly lose money.
“The less me-toos there are in the UK the better it will be for the industry – poor imitations stagnate growth. A change is long overdue.”
JWP introduced the Poachpod to the UK market in 2007, since when its phenomenal success has attracted its fair share of plagiarists. However, the US creator of the Poachpod, Fusionbrands, has promised to “aggressively pursue infringers”, and indeed the company has won a series of infringement cases.
Wilkinson says that thanks to the combined success of the Poachpod and the Lock & Lock range in the UK, JWP is on track to shortly reach its highest-ever turnover.