Australian manuka honey producers are trying to block their New Zealand counterparts from trademarking the words “manuka honey” this week. A three day hearing before the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand has the Australian Manuka Honey Association opposing the New Zealand Manuka Honey Appellation Society’s application for a certification trademark to prevent any foreign manuka honey from being labelled as such within New Zealand. Similar to what the French district of Champagne has achieved. The Aussies say the plant from which manuka honey is derived, Leptospermum scoparium, grows natively on both sides of the Tasman Sea. And the word “manuka” has been used to describe the plant and the honey since the 1930s in Australia. Counsel for the Australian Manuka Association Nura Taiefi says Manuka has now become a loan word.
The New Zealanders say the Maori word manuka carries an important cultural significance for New Zealand’s First Nations peoples. Whereas If successful, the certification mark will only apply in New Zealand… as outside of New Zealand, you have to gain the trade mark country-by-country. Australian producers are actively opposing a similar application before the UK Intellectual Property Office, and a decision in that matter will be handed down before the end of the year.