How can I protect my IP within the food and drink industry?

October 31, 2019


Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights in the food and drinks industry is crucial. The market is very competitive and it is important that your products stand out in the crowd. How else can you convince a consumer, who has never tasted your product, to purchase your goods over a competitors? Your enticing brand name, your unique recipe or your beautiful packaging are all factors that are hugely valuable and are worth protecting. So, with that said, what IP rights apply to your business?

  1. Trade marks

Trade marks are crucial to any business. They are the only way to record the intangible ‘good will’ with which the public associates a particular sign or word relating to that brand. Your brand name will help consumers to recognise your business and allows them to choose the food or drinks they want to purchase.

Let’s give you an example. The consumer knows that buying a Ferrrero Rocher box means that he will be purchasing a delicious hazelnut, crunchy chocolate. The consumer will not even need to read the ingredients at the back of the box because the trade mark, ‘Ferrero Rocher’ automatically informs the consumer directly about the origin of the chocolate and its ingredients.

Registering a trade mark has clear commercial benefit. Registered marks are easier to transfer between businesses, licence to others under a franchise and, charge others for using the mark by licensing it to them for royalties. The security and value added to a business by a registered trade mark also makes it more attractive to investors.

  1. Registered Designs

Registered Designs protect the overall look and/or shape of a product. Registered designs are often used in the food and drinks industry to protect the packaging or shape of the product for instance, the Toblerone chocolate bar.

A registered designs provides you with an exclusive right to use a design for your own needs and you can also prevent other competitors from copying or using similar packaging or shapes. It is therefore vital to protect your new designs.

  1. Trade Secrets

The final IP right that is often used in the food industry is trade secrets. Trade secrets are usually used to protect recipes.

Let’s take the recipe of Coca Cola, one of the most famous pieces of confidential information. So valuable in fact, that it was once used by the company as collateral for a loan. Without the right non-disclosure agreements in place, this trade secret could be lost and Coca Cola’s competitors would be able to make an identical product.

So how do I protect trade secrets? Having the right non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place is vital. An NDA is essentially an agreement between two or more parties that a secret, when disclosed, will be kept secret. If a party breaches this agreement, then the other party will be able to make a claim for breach of contract.

In conclusion, it is pretty clear from the above that IP rights play a significant role in the food and drinks industry. To speak to one of our intellectual specialists about how best to protect your intellectual property rights, please email or call 020 7096 2779.

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