The Australian Manuka Honey Association is delighted that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has rejected an application by a group of New Zealand producers to trademark the words “Manuka honey”, recognising that it is a purely descriptive term for a type of honey.
The decision will have widespread ramifications in jurisdictions beyond the United Kingdom.
In reaching its decision, the IPO accepted there was significant evidence that the general public understands manuka honey is not produced exclusively in New Zealand, but rather originates from a number of places including Australia.
Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) Chairman Paul Callander said: “This decision is the right decision and a fair decision. The term manuka has been used in Australia since the 1800s and the Australian industry has invested significantly for decades in manuka honey science, research and marketing. It would be deeply unfair – and financially devastating – to deny that reality.”
Callander said the IPO decision would be welcomed by the entire Australian industry, which extends beyond manuka producers to the thousands of individuals and organisations engaged with manuka honey through research, logistics, manufacturing and sales.
“The market is forecast to be worth $1.27 billion globally by 2027 and offers vast potential for local innovation and manufacturing,” Callander said. “The Australian industry has fought hard to protect its rightful interests in this growing market, and will continue to do so. This decision is an important one that we hope will be followed by other jurisdictions where trademark certification has been sought.”
The same group of New Zealand producers has also sought to trademark the term in the United States, Europe, NZ and China. So far, no region has agreed to register the trademark. A decision from the NZ Intellectual Property Office is expected early in 2022.