12th August 2021
With the first uniquely geographical food produce entering the government’s new protected foodie hall of fame, farmers are being urged to safeguard their IP rights.
In the UK we have world-renowned products that have become generic household names. Think Stilton, Melton Mowbray pies, Cornish Pasties – but they’re not just names. They are geographically authentic products that need protecting from other producers around the world imitating them.
Just this week we have seen Gower Salt Marsh Lamb, fed on a unique blend of vegetation only found in this area of Wales, become the first product to be awarded the new government-backed UK Geographical Indication (GI) stamp of approval, protecting its provenance and authenticity following the end of the Transition Period.
Since leaving the EU, the UK government has become responsible for ensuring popular and traditional products are given protection. Farmers and other food and drink producers must be aware of these changes to safeguard their special status and Intellectual Property (IP) rights over origin and authenticity.
UK GI status is an IP right used on products that have qualities or characteristics attributable to a specific geographical origin. This is only applicable in England, Wales and Scotland.
For food lovers and those wishing to reduce food miles, this GI mark guarantees a product’s authenticity and provenance. For farmers it’s a commercial imperative.
The recognition means protection for the reputation of the product as well as giving the business further commercial opportunities, including expansion and prospective sale.
Megan Jefferies, Partner at Thrings specialises in IP. She said: “Safeguarding your IP rights through proper registration of the GI Scheme can be likened to putting a fence around a plot of land.”
“A strong and clearly defined boundary has multiple benefits. It not only stakes your business’ claim to a particular commercial activity and establishes the facts in the event of a challenge or dispute, but it also provides clarity regarding your unique offering to prospective investors and other potential business associates. “
“Properly defining and protecting your IP opens the door to future expansion and further opportunities. But there are differences between trade marks and the GI status and seeking advice early can make sure you are going down the most appropriate route for your business. And for the foodies amongst you, when you’re tucking into a Cornish pasty or a slice of Dundee Cake, you can be sure it’s the real thing!”
For more information contact Megan Jefferies at firstname.lastname@example.org