The Toy and Game Copycat Code of Conduct will aim to fuel and reward innovation within the toy industry, while crack down on the controversial issue of products of similar look and style launching within the toy industry.
Victor Caddy, director and partner of trademarks and design at Wynne Jones IP launched the Code of Conduct at Mojo Nation’s Toy and Game Design Conference to an audience of attendees made up of retail buyers, big name toy companies, and toy and game designers this week.
The mission statement of the launch is to build a means to allow the industry to stem the numbers of companies ‘piggy-backing off the success of a popular toy line,’ by launching product of similar design.
Caddy stressed that currently, those who could be accused of ‘copying’ product are often operating within the laws of IP protection, reinforcing the knowledge that it is not illegal to come up with a copycat product, providing the product offers notable enough differences.
The topic has been a controversial point within the toy industry for a number of years, spanning not only toy design, but reaching retail level, questioning the motives, actions and the responsibility of retailers who stock original products and their copycat counterparts.
“There are blind spots in IP protection, and most toys and games are not patentable,” Caddy reminded the crowd at this year’s Toy and Game Design Conference.
“There’s been a tacit acceptance that copycats are there. Retailers say there’s a demand for the cheaper product, while many of the big toy makers don’t want to ruin their relationship with the retailers by arguing against the point.
“At the end of it, however, often times, ‘copycating’ can be harmful. Harmful to the designers, to the toy companies who lose sales because of them, to confused consumers and children are suffering from the problem with copycats.”
Until now, continued Caddy, there has never been a united front to address the issue of copycat products, presumably because the issue is so vast, large and notably, not illegal.
Wynne Jones IP has therefore launched the concept to begin uniting parties, from designers and retailers on the topic. It will include drawing up a set of guidelines to support all parties.
“This will be a joined up approach, with everyone represented by launching a forum made up of retail buyers, designers, and heads of R&D,” said Caddy. “Under the Code, manufacturers will agree not to create copycat product, retailers will agree not to stock clear copycat product, instead they will create value product by delivering original concepts.
“We hope to facilitate discussion between toy companies and retail buyers to ensure copycat product is avoided or swiftly removed if found on retail shelves and create an industry recognised badge for use by those supporting the code.”
“Of course, this will take a lot of work and effort to take effect, but given just how much energy goes into the design of each toy or game, I think it’s important that they are protected in the best way possible.
“The idea of the Code of Conduct, launched by Wynne Jones IP, is to stem these issues and promote innovation within the toy space, and encourage new ideas and creative thinking.”