Not exactly the bee's knees01 November 2017
It came as a sting to Australian honey producers when Unique Manuka Factor, a group of New Zealand honey producers, filed a trade mark application for "Manuka honey" with the Australian Trade Marks Office. The sticky fight over exclusive naming rights of the honey that is produced by bees from the Manuka bush has since expanded to five countries, with the New Zealand producers revealing they have applied for exclusive "Manuka honey" trade marks in China, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
While Unique Manuka Factor has claimed that the popular Manuka nectar is native to New Zealand, the Australian Manuka Honey Association has countered this. The Association claims Australian producers should not be prevented from exporting their products under the Manuka label, given Australia is home to 83 varieties of the Manuka bush (and New Zealand predominantly has just one variety).
The road to registration hasn't been so sweet for Unique Manuka Factor, with IP Australia finding that the trade mark was too descriptive (rather than distinctive). Despite being given 15 months to resolve the issue, their application has since lapsed. The descriptive nature of the trade mark application was also cited as the United States' Patent and Trademarks Office's reason for refusing registration. Unique Manuka Factor have since appealed this ruling and we expect the same may follow in Australia.