Charles Russell Speechlys Intellectual Property team successfully oppose the registration of a certification mark for Manuka Honey

Charles Russell Speechlys Intellectual Property team recently cemented the successful opposition by the Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) to register a certification mark for the term Manuka Honey.  The mark was filed by the Manuka Honey Appellation Society (MHAS), representing the New Zealand honey producers and if registered would have prevented producers of honey made from bees feeding on Manuka bushes outside New Zealand from describing their product as Manuka honey. MHAS appealed to the High Court seeking reversal of the IPO’s decision to refuse the mark.  The mark was also opposed by the Rowse honey business, and we liaised closely with their legal team.  After a certain amount of tactical skirmishing, notably obtaining security for our client’s costs, the appeal was due to be heard in mid-January 2023. 

AMHA’s (and Rowse’s) IPO ruling was confirmed when just 2 days after receiving our appeal arguments and with less than 4 weeks before the appeal hearing MHAS unilaterally discontinued its appeal, thus also making it liable for our client’s costs.   

This is a hugely significant result for our client and is important, not just to the Australian Manuka Honey industry, but all honey producers (particularly outside New Zealand). Manuka honey has become well known for its anti-bacterial or health giving properties industry and is used not only for consumption but in healthcare, such as wound dressings in multi-million pound industry.

Paul Callander, Chairman of AMHA, said: “Our sincere thanks go out to Mary Bagnall and her team for the excellent work done on our behalf in successfully opposing the application for the certified trademark ‘Manuka Honey’ by a New Zealand group. In what was a challenging and complex matter we very much appreciate the quality and timeliness of the legal services provided to achieve an outstanding result”.

Mary Bagnall, Partner and Head of Intellectual Property at Charles Russell Speechlys says: “We are delighted to have assisted AMHA to achieve in the UK what was undoubtedly the right result, as a significant win in a hard fought international dispute.

The Charles Russell Speechlys team was led by Partner, Mary Bagnall, with support from Olivia Gray, Senior Associate, James Yow, Associate, and Anna Rogers, Solicitor Apprentice.

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