Proposed South African Label Rules: Impacting Trademarks?

According to a recent report by Business Day, manufacturers of products such as candy and sports drinks may be required to revise their packaging to comply with laws related to labeling and the advertising of food. This, according to the report, could have implications for property rights and trademarks of companies. Drafted amendments to the South African Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act restrict font size, lettering and even the color of packaging.

According to one expert cited in the report, this could mean companies have to apply for exemption or permission to use branding and packaging that they have been using for years. In addition, under the proposed regulations, foods classified as nonessential for a healthy diet, such as candy or chocolates, may not make any health or nutritional claims. The regulations are open for comment until December 2007.

What could the implcations be in the personal care arena? This is currently unclear. If new labeling rules restricting font size and color spread from the foods industry to personal care, manufacturers exporting to South Africa could have new rules to learn and follow. And if regulating bodies are cracking down on labels that make claims beyond the product's core function, terms such as nutricosmetic, cosmeceutical, even antiaging could disappear from the labels of South African cosmetic products.

This may not necessarily be a bad thing, in the sense that the consumer would not be misled by a good marketing story. In fact, if the new rules on labeling were accepted worldwide and found their way into personal care, the industry could become more "purist" in that it only reports the facts of the product on the product label.

This is all merely speculation, and currently they are only proposed amendments specified for foods. But trends in the food industry historically have influenced personal care, and as the old adage goes, "Misery loves company."

-Rachel Chapman
Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine


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