Australian honey producers say the withdrawal of court proceedings by a New Zealand group trying to trademark the “manuka” name is a major win.
New Zealand’s Manuka Honey Appellation Society (MHAS) had been fighting in the UK High Court to stop Australian producers using the word “manuka” when exporting their product.
“We have been formally notified through our lawyers and barristers in the UK that the MHAS has withdrawn their high court application,” the Australian Manuka Honey Association’s Paul Callander said.
The trademark challenge would have stopped producers outside New Zealand from using the manuka name.
The international manuka honey market is forecast to be worth about $1.27 billion in annual trade by 2027.
Manuka honey products can sell for up to $A500 per kilogram.
Mr Callander said there was growing demand for manuka honey for both consumption and medicinal use.
He said the decision means Australian producers can continue to sell manuka honey in the UK and Europe.
“So there are no restraints on us selling our product under our current name manuka in those markets,” Mr Callander told AAP.
The New Zealanders had been challenging a previous ruling by the UK Intellectual Property Office, which had rejected their bid for exclusive use of the manuka name.
The case was due to be heard this month, in what had become a bitter trans-Tasman dispute.
Mr Callander said they had been fighting for the past five years to continue using the manuka name, and declared the decision as a win.
“This is a certification trademark based on … trying to a trademark a plant,” he said.
“That plant … Australia has got over 80 species around the country and it is clearly native to Australia … and one of those species is in New Zealand.”
Both sides are still awaiting the outcome of a New Zealand trademark application by that was heard by the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office in 2021.
(Australian Associated Press)