Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The rise of the ASA

A decade ago the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA), like many self regulated industry bodies, was regarded as well conceived but rather toothless. Today it is considered an excellent forum for, amongst other things, airing packaging disputes. It is quick and relatively inexpensive, and its rulings have a significant impact on how companies (especially FMCG companies) advertise their products. It is also relatively transparent with a website that is informative and generally up to date. Its credibility is such that it is often preferred to the High Court for those trade mark disputes that fall within the ambit of its code. However, it is not without controversy - for example the "imitation" provisions, in certain situations, give more protection to local and foreign trade marks than the "infringement" provisions in the Trade Marks Act and also at common law generally. The latest usage stats reveal that it receives more than 2000 complaints a year (100% up on 2000/2001), of which 10% come from competitors - more than enough rumblings to attract the attentions of this blog, especially as the ASA is currently calling for proposals for the amendment of its code.

Afro-IP is delighted to announce that over the next three months guest blogger Sara Spiro will be writing a Monday column dedicated to the ASA. In addition she will be collating any and all comments or proposals for the amendment of the ASA code here - but please before 25 February if you are proposing amendments, as the deadline for submissions to the ASA ends on 26 February.

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