The Pitfalls of Comparative Advertising

Article excerpt

Comparative advertising, or "knocking copy", can be an effective marketing tool.

In the UK, comparative advertising is permitted, but there are potential legal pitfalls. You can avoid these by following the guidelines outlined below.

If your competitors fail to follow these guidelines, you may be able to prevent continued publication of their comparative advertising.

* If you plan to identify your competitor's product by using his brand, check whether the brand is registered as a trade mark. If it is, take legal advice before using it in your advertisement. Use of your competitor's registered trade mark in an advertisement can be an infringement of his legal rights. (Note, however, that this rule is likely to be revised in the near future when our trade mark law is reformed.)

* Be fair and accurate and do not mislead. Always ensure that you are comparing like with like. Comparative advertising which is unfair and misleading is prohibited under the British Code of Advertising Practice. Check the specific guidelines in that Code or in any other applicable Codes, such as the Independent Television Commission Code or the DTI Code of Practice on Price Indications. …