We look at the latest developments in the battle for control over who can claim Manuka honey.
In February we reported the dispute between New Zealand and Australian honey producers over the term MANUKA.
Manuka Honey Appellation Society Incorporated, a New Zealand society, sought registration in New Zealand of the name MANUKA HONEY as a certification mark in an attempt to control who could use the words on honey.
In addition to MANUKA being a Maori word, MHAS claimed that only bees which collect nectar from the ‘Manuka’ tree in New Zealand can produce Manuka honey. As such, honey producers outside of New Zealand could not legitimately call their products ‘MANUKA’.
This caused a stir in the Australian honey industry with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council claiming that the production of Manuka honey was not limited to New Zealand as the Manuka plant (or Leptospermum scoparium) is also found in Australia.
Since then and not all that unsurprisingly, MHAS’ Australian trade mark application for MANUKA HONEY has lapsed. A new application has not been filed. However, a quick look over the Tasman revealed that they have taken the decision by IPONZ to refuse the trade mark in New Zealand (No. 1025914) to a hearing. Further information will be provided as to the outcome in due course.
MHAS has also had similar problems in registering the name as a certification mark in the US where a response has been lodged to the Office Action but a decision from the Examiner has not yet been handed down. Similarly in the UK, MHAS’ certification application remains under examination.
In the meantime, the squabble continues.