An attempt to trademark and restrict using the name Manuka honey to only New Zealand producers appears to have run into serious problems.
New Zealand’s Intellectual Property Office has reportedly rejected an application from the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association.
However the Association is said to be appealing the decision, and press reports suggest that the New Zealanders have also submitted trademark applications in Australia, the US, UK and perhaps even China.
At least some of these applications have been lodged by a little known incorporated body - the Manuka Honey Appellation Society, although the UMF Honey Association and the Society are believed to be effectively one and the same.
In Australia, a Brisbane law firm has reported that the application by the Appellation Society has lapsed.
Whether the difficulties facing the application are a result of the widespread opposition that the NZ move has prompted from Australian Manuka honey producers is not yet clear.
But there have certainly been some recent legal moves in Australia to restrict the use of the Manuka Honey name.
Late last month ASX listed honey-packer, Capilano Honey Limited, lodged an application to trademark the name Australian Manuka Honey Association.
It is not yet clear whether or not Capilano’s application is supported by other Australian honey producers.
However industry leaders and representative are scheduled to meet in Melbourne in early September 2017 to consider the situation.
The meeting has been promoted through the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council and was initiated by Paul Callander, managing director of Western Australia’s Manukalife Pty Limited
Manuka Life is seeking investors to help it set up plantations of the Leptospermum bushes from which Manuka honey nectar is harvested.
The company has recently been contracted by the Australian governments Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to evaluate the suitability of Western Australian conditions for growing various different leptospermum sub-species.
As many as 80 different sub-species of leptospermum are said to be indigenous to Australia.
On the north-coast of Eastern Australia the letospermum polygafolium bush provides the nectar for a Manuka honey that is sometimes also called Jelly Bush.
In other east coast locations, such as in Tasmania, virtually all the Manuka honey produced is from wild leptospermum scoparium bushes, the same as that from which most genuine NZ Manuka honey is sourced.
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