Located in the unlikely setting of Notting Hill, London the the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
is a little gem. It is based on the collection of consumer historian,
Robert Opie, who saw the need to record the history of products around
âStarting at the age of sixteen with a packet of Munchies, the
Collection now extends to all aspects of daily life â toys, comics,
magazines, newspapers, technology, travel, royal souvenirs, fashion and
design. Robert says, âWhilst families tend to save mementos from
special occasions, it struck me that little was being done to keep the
everyday material. When the thousands of pieces of this social history
are assembled into some giant jigsaw, the picture becomes clearer as to
the remarkable journey we have all come throughâ. â
The collection contains over 12,000 toys and games, posters and
magazines, fads and fashions, postcards and packaging. There is a
strong nostalgic aspect of the museum as you discover sweets and games
from your youth. The history of consumer culture is revealed decade by
decade from Victorian times to the present day.
Two things struck me during the visit. One, was the increase in size
of packages over time. Presumably a combination of wealthier consumers
and less frequent shopping. The other was the simplification of
branding over time. They have a great series of displays showing the
development of household names such as Swan Vesta matches and Branston
Pickle over time. With each âbrand refreshâ the colours and logoâs are
made clearer and simpler.
The only disappointment for me was not being able to find an example of a Jacobs Club biscuit
the dominant brand of the 1980âs with one of the most memorable
advertising slogans, âIf you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit
join our clubâ.
There was a good example of âpassing offâ, known as the Jif Lemon case, where Reckitt & Colman Ltd took Borden Inc to the House of Lords and won.
From an article by Kenneth Choy discussing the tort of passing off:
âIn the summer of 1985, Borden began selling its ReaLemon product in
its lemon-shaped container in the UK. Reckitt & Colman became
concerned and filed a lawsuit to stop the American company. Reckitt
& Colman was successful in the lower courts and Borden took the
case to the House of Lords.
Explaining the standard, which became known as the classic trinity, Lord Oliver asked:
1. Have the respondents [Reckitt & Colman] proved that the
get-up under which their lemon juice has been sold since 1956 has
become associated in the minds of substantial numbers of the purchasing
public specifically and exclusively with [their] (âJifâ) lemon juice?
2. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, does the
get-up under which the appellants [Borden] proposed to market their
lemon juice in [the ReaLemon containers] amount to a representation by
[Borden] that the juice which they sell is âJifâ lemon juice?
3. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, is it, on a
balance of probabilities, likely that, if the appellants [Borden] are
not restrained as they have been, a substantial number of members of
the public will be misled into purchasing the defendantsâ lemon juice
in the belief that it is the respondentsâ Jif juice? (pp.500-501)
Lord Oliver observed that supermarkets tend to sell only one brand
and possibly their own house brand of preserved lemon juice. He noted
Reckitt & Colmanâs survey evidence showing that âa housewife
presented with a display of these products in close juxtaposition would
be likely to pick up . . . the [ReaLemon] product in the belief that
what she was buying was the respondentsâ Jif lemon juiceâ (p. 500)
since Jif was the only âlemon-sized squeezy pack of lemon juice on the
marketâ (p. 501).
Concluding that the three elements are satisfied, the Lords affirmed
the permanent injunction barring Borden from marketing lemon juice in
lemon-shaped containers in the UK.
Had the Jif lemon been a registered trademark, the case would have
been much simpler to prove. Infringement is established if it can show
that Bordenâs ReaLemon container is identical or similar to the Jif
lemon and that allowing the ReaLemon container in the market is likely
to cause public confusion. Section 18, Trade Mark Ordinance (Cap. 559).
One may ask, if the Jif lemon had been sold since 1956, why wasnât it registered as a trademark?
The answer is that, had they applied to register the Jif lemon as a
trademark, the application would have been rejected by the registrar.
This is because a mark that is a symbol of the goods or services it
promotes does not qualify for registration. So, the Jif lemon is a
symbol of lemon and lemon juice so it cannot be registered. If it is
registered, it would prevent others from using a symbol of a lemon to
sell lemon or lemon juice. Thus, Reckitt & Colman could only resort
to a passing off claim in their fight against competition from