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Intellectual Property & Selective Distribution

This in turn protects brands’ long-term commercial and creative success, as well as being part of the basis for the sector’s significant contribution to employment. In short, the value of luxury brands is inextricably linked to their intellectual property.

Likewise, businesses’ retail networks often comprise directly owned or managed stores, multi-brand digital retailers and world-famous department stores, as well as distributors and boutiques in key locations around the world.
Many British luxury brands can boast of legacies of innovation within their respective fields. In 1879 Thomas Burberry invented gabardine, a weather-resistant fabric, which revolutionised outerwear and is still used by the brand today.

Investment in innovation continues to this day, and is protected through Intellectual Property rights (IP), which encompasses product development and design, particular skills and methods of production, brand identity and communications.

Investment in innovation and quality of design and production is protected and encouraged by the company being able to enforce its IP rights, and therefore provides British luxury brands with legal recourse against counterfeiters, infringers and unauthorised distributors.
In 2022, after an intensive campaign, Walpole was successful in persuading the UK Government to renew this order – which is a foundation stone of the luxury business model – following the UK’s departure from the European Union. We continue to campaign to ensure that this regulation is maintained.

Likewise, in the EU, Walpole works with ECCIA colleagues to ensure that its European equivalent, the Vertical Block Exemption Regulations, is protected in EU law.
Luxury brands’ ability to choose the most appropriate locations and partners to distribute their products is underpinned by the principle of selective distribution governed by the Vertical Block Exemption Order (VBEO). This enables brands to carefully select and invest in a network of partners, which is appropriate for their products and delivers retail experiences that are in line with or exceed their customers’ expectations.
Walpole is calling on the Government to:
Retain the current Selective Distribution rules that underpin the success of the sector
Maintain the existing IP exhaustion approach
Introduce stricter measures to tackle counterfeiting, and work multilaterally to stop the trade in fake goods

Walpole consistently raises issues with ministers, civil servants and other politicians. If you want to help us do so, please let us know.