NZ loses mānuka honey trademark fight with Australia

May 22, 2023

The Mori term manuka was descriptive, and the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand ruled on Monday that the beekeepers’ attempt to register a trademark did not meet the necessary requirements.

The latest setback in a long-running battle to prevent Australian beekeepers from using the lucrative name of mānuka honey comes from New Zealand honey producers losing their latest battle to trademark the product.

The Protected Innovation Office of New Zealand decided on Monday that New Zealand mānuka beekeepers’ endeavor for a brand name didn’t meet fundamental necessities, and the term mānuka was clear.

Although it is more commonly known as the “tea tree” in Australia, the white-flowered tree that can be found in both New Zealand and Australia is referred to as the “mānuka.” A type of honey with antibacterial and health-promoting properties is produced by the bees that browse its tiny pale blooms. As a result, it commands a significant price premium on the international market.

At the most noteworthy fixations, some New Zealand groups have gotten up to NZ$2,000 to $5,000 for a 250g container at extravagance stores abroad. In New Zealand, mass bee poisonings, thefts, vandalism, and beatings have all been sparked by fierce competition for access to mānuka forests and the product’s lucrative nature.

or on the other hand over 10 years, notwithstanding, the two nations have been in constant disagreement over the utilization of the mānuka name – a Māori word, that New Zealand contends is a native fortune, remarkably connected with its own honey creation. The Manuka Charitable Trust’s Chair, Pita Tipene, described the decision as “disappointing in so many ways.” He said the trust would delay to refocus, prior to proceeding with its fight.

He stated, “If anything, it has made us more determined to protect what is ours on behalf of all New Zealanders and consumers who value authenticity.” He was referring to the items in question.

“Our job as kaitiaki [guardians] to safeguard the mana [dignity] and worth of our taonga [treasured] species, including mānuka in the interest of all New Zealanders isn’t contestable.”

In a press release, players in the Australian industry stated that they planned to increase international sales in response to rising demand, calling the decision a “commonsense outcome.”

Ben McKee, the chairman of the Australian Manuka Honey Association, said that the decision made him “delighted.”

“Our item has a long history of being perceived as manuka honey, it is created like the NZ item is, and it additionally offers the sought-after antimicrobial properties that customers all over the planet esteem so profoundly,” he said.

In 2015, producers in New Zealand attempted to trademark the term for the first time.

The dispute was described by the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office as “a trans-Tasman tussle of extraordinary proportions” and as “one of the most complex and long-running proceedings to have come before the Intellectual Property Office” in its ruling. The most recent choice follows a comparative 2021 decision from the UK to not give brand name status. – The Guardian

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