This Mumbrella video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheMumboReport#p/u/7/TD153sb6SVg) illustrates that the practice of imitating popular supermarket products is rife at Coles. Coles no doubt checks the legality of each of its imitations.
Here's a few suggestions on how manufacturers and product originators can improve their legal protection. Each involves being a futurist in use of intellectual property law. Each involves the principle that it's better to design your IP than IP your design.
Consider the presentation of products.
The trade mark registrations might be over not just a name but over other identifiers on packs and packaging. In trade mark law jargon they are all "signs". A sign can be a name, tag line, colour, shape, smell or sound.
There might there be novelty in package design sufficient for an Innovation Patent, if not a Standard Patent.
The might be packaging or product get-up protection, sometimes called "trade dress". For example the noteworthy design of the Bodum Chambord coffee plunger worked successfully to convince on appeal the Federal Court of Australia to award damages against an imitator. The first photo right is Bodum, the second is the Euroline imitation.
Consider the content of products.
Is there a secret recipe or formula which might constitute confidential information, if not a trade secret? Want to speak to a specialist now about in patents and food - call food patent attorney Adam Hyland of Franke Hyland on 02 8071 5300. Adam has a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical).
Consider the labelling of products.
What intellectual property notices are put on the package or in associated items such as swing tags. Are there claims made as regards patents, trade marks, or copyright relevant to the product packaging or content?
Product-specific advice is needed for all the above, along with documentation including contracts. Human beings create intellectual property, hence there's a need for agreements with consultants and employees and confidentiality agreements and information security arrangements with all.
Further reading on food and beverage intellectual property: