24 Jan 2023

New Zealand mānuka honey producers vow to continue trademark fight

8:51 am on 24 January 2023
Manuka honey (generic)

UMF Honey Association chairperson John Rawcliffe says the industry remains confident it can trademark the term mānuka honey. File photo Photo: 123RF

A group of New Zealand honey producers working to trademark the term mānuka honey have refiled court proceedings in the UK and EU.

Backed by the wider honey industry and government, New Zealand Manuka Honey Appellation Society has been working to protect the term so that only honey from New Zealand can be called mānuka since 2015.

It said mānuka was a Māori word and was a distinctive product of New Zealand.

In 2021, the UK Intellectual Office rejected the application.

The UMF Honey Association is supporting the claim - its chairperson, John Rawcliffe, said the industry learned a lot from the failed bid and were now trying again.

"We were able to stand back and understand a little bit more about the process about the legal nuances and we've been able to take all those on board and refile."

The EU's Intellectual Office was yet to make a decision but the Mānuka Charitable Trust had withdrawn its initial case and refiled there too, Rawcliffe said.

Both new cases have been filed by the trust.

He said reports that New Zealand had completely withdrawn its trademark efforts were false.

"We have withdrawn the initial case but we are refiling and the New Zealand honey industry remains confident it can trademark the term mānuka honey.

"We knew it would never happen overnight but at the end of the day if you are right, and you're doing the right thing, if you continue, you will never lose."

Rawcliffe said the trust had the financial backing of the honey industry to continue the trademark fight for another five years.

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