As well as protecting what you print on your

products, you can also protect the unique design of the product itself as a registered design or, in some cases, a trade mark. Customers may be using the shape of the product or the packaging to identify your product on the shelves, before they appreciate the branding or take that fi rst bite. T erefore, copy- cats in the market can create an additional level of confusion by copying the design of your product or packaging. By registering your design, you can prevent others from using one that is similar or identical. Aside from your brand, you may have other

intellectual property in your business which needs to be protected. Your recipes, ingredients and/or methods may

be protected as trade secrets. If, for instance, it is not possible to ascertain a recipe from the fi nal product and it is not disclosed elsewhere, it will be confi dential to you. It is, therefore, extremely important that you have taken sufficient steps to ensure the information remains a secret. Big companies like Coca-Cola have protected their recipe as a closely guarded trade secret for over 100 years. T is may include ensuring agreements are in place with employees and contractors to make sure that the trade secret remains protected. However, once the information enters the public domain, the protection will cease. If your recipe or process is especially inventive,

Jenna Bruce Director Intellectual Property Team Howes Percival

James Howarth Partner

Intellectual Property Team Howes Percival

one of the strongest forms of protection would be to obtain a patent. Patent protection, although subject to some hefty barriers, will prevent anyone from copying your product or process for as long as the patent lasts. As growing numbers of innovative meat substitutes, plant-based products and environmentally friendly food packaging enter the market, there is growing scope for the patent regime to apply to the food and drink sector. It should also be noted that whilst protection of your intellectual

property will provide you with a strong position to challenge copy- cats, the creation of formal intellectual property rights (such as trade marks, registered designs and patents) will give you a tangible asset in your business. Not only will this create value, but it will allow you to more easily license your rights to third parties to manufacture or sell, and will make your business more attractive to potential purchasers. An additional consideration in the food and drink industry is the

existence of geographical indication schemes. If your product has a geographical connection or is made using traditional methods, geographical indication protection will protect the product name from being misused or copied by third parties who do not live up to the same high standards. Without this protection, the unique characteristics of your product would be at risk of being lost. For example, Howes Percival acted in the successful application for Protected Geographical Indication status for the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. T e specialist Intellectual Property team at Howes Percival are

experienced in advising clients in the food and drink sector on all aspects of brand and intellectual property protection.

If you would like to get in touch in relation to any of the issues raised in this article or any other Intellectual Property matters email, or call us on 01604 230400



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