3 Feb 2022

Trust to appeal mānuka honey trademark rejection

2:02 pm on 3 February 2022

The New Zealand honey industry has decided to appeal against the UK Intellectual Property Office's decision to decline its mānuka honey trademark application.

Manuka honey (generic)

Photo: 123RF

Mānuka Charitable Trust with funding support from the government is working to trademark the word mānuka in international markets so that only honey from New Zealand can be called mānuka.

In December, the UK rejected their bid, saying UK consumers have an understanding that mānuka honey comes from New Zealand and Australia.

Trust chair Pita Tipene said after considering its options, the trust was appealing the decision.

"The group remains strongly of the view that it is not appropriate for honey producers in another country to use the name mānuka honey when the plant the nectar came from did not grow in Aotearoa New Zealand.

"This is also an indigenous rights issue and is out of step with existing indigenous IP frameworks and consumers' demand for authenticity and quality. The word mānuka is from our reo Māori and a precious taonga that we have a responsibility to honour and protect," Tipene said.

The Mānuka Honey Appellation Society is supporting the effort and its secretary John Rawcliffe said the UK decision was hard to swallow but he was confident in the decision to appeal.

"This is important for two reasons. One is obviously from a UK consumer perspective, they have been brought up on this product and the knowledge that's come from here, and it's very important to protect that. The other side of the coin is that other honeys have been using the name mānuka when in fact the honey is not mānuka.

"The second is about New Zealand's position, it's on the way to becoming a billion-dollar industry annually so protecting the term is very critical."

An application to trademark mānuka is currently before the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office - a decision is expected early this year.

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