Legal Services for The Food & Drink Industry

We have been advising clients in the food and drink industry on a wide range of legal issues for over 25 years. From pop-up to PLC, micro-brewery to Michelin-star, no matter the size or structure of your organisation, our team will expertly deal with all of the intellectual property issues, and the majority of contractual issues, that your brand encounters.

It’s worth remembering that IP doesn’t just protect the product itself, food and drink brands can live and die by the quality of their packaging. If this fails, the product is ruined (and is potentially harmful), but with the right design, your product can travel from packer to plate without any compromise on taste. It’s vital, then, to protect new designs and enter into robust contracts with your suppliers.

To discuss your intellectual property concerns with us for free just get in touch by filling in the form opposite and we’ll get right back to you.

“My career started in a ‘magic circle’ law firm in London (Clifford Chance) before I went on the co-found HelloFresh (the world’s largest recipe kit service). Because of my background,

I can appraise Briffa from both sides of the equation and I have to say that in my entire career I have not worked with a law firm that was so utterly professional, innovative in their thinking, responsive, empathetic and friendly.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with their team (in particular Eamon) and I could not recommend them more. Whether you are a small business taking your first crucial steps into IP / trademark / copyright protection or a larger operation looking to monitor and enforce your rights, Briffa have got your back.”

– Patrick Drake, HelloFresh Co-Founder

How Can We Help?

Our legal services for the food & drink industry include:

Trade marks

As a food and drink brand consumers put a lot of trust in your quality and reputation. Over time this trust can become one of your most valuable assets, don’t risk losing that trust by not protecting your brands trade marks.

Trade marks protect aspects of your brand identity, like names, logos and taglines. In other words, the very thing that consumers come to recognise as an assurance of quality.

We can advise you on your brand strategy and make sure it’s registered and properly protected anywhere in the world.

Commercial contracts

To operate at a high level in the food and drink industry, your business will rely on a network of partners, so it is key that contracts are in place and robust enough to ensure that you can continue to operate without concerns about paperwork.

Perhaps you’ve had unpleasant experiences in the past, a supplier not delivering on a price promise or the design agency you hired for your branding didn’t produce the work you agreed. We’re here to make sure that your contracts cover you logistically and financially whilst allowing all parties to work efficiently together. Agreements are key tools in holding your other parties to account and protecting yourself and your rights.

Whether freelancers, manufacturing, distribution, consumer sales or wholesale agreements, we offer fixed fees to draft, review and negotiate documents.

Insurance

In such a fast paced and competitive market the potential for litigation is quite high. And with some of the worlds largest companies operating in the food and drink industry, don’t let the potential costs stop you from protecting your rights.

Ask us about our DesignProtect insurance, which gives you a fighting fund to pursue infringers and protect your designs.

Designs

When it comes to standing out amongst the competition your packaging and the overall look of your product speaks volumes. The physical appearance of your product is what consumers will recognise and look for when making a purchase. Don’t let third parties infringe on your rights and keep your designs protected by registering the look of your products.

Registered designs offer comprehensive and cost-effective protection for your original creations. We can help secure registered rights and build your intellectual property portfolio.

Our expert team advises on both registered and unregistered design rights. We can also advise on a worldwide design protection strategy.

Copyright

To stand out in the food and drink industry requires a highly creative approach, from your logo and branding to the text on your website. Original creations such as these are automatically covered by copyright.

It is important to be aware of the creative assets your company has ownership of so you can use these effectively in future. It is easy to overlook the ownership of creative work done for your organisation, by either freelancers, agencies or employees, and this could be costly in the long run.

We can advise on how to best protect your creative assets. And we can support you if an individual or company infringes your copyright.

Confidential Information

It’s safe to say that the recipe for Coca-Cola is one of the most valuable trade secrets in the beverage industry. However not all information is so obvious.

Your unique recipe aside, inside knowledge of the industry, supply chains and contacts are all valuable information to your business. As are your design processes, business data and internal assets.

We can help you keep your knowledge secret with non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality advice.

Why Choose Briffa?

We’ve provided IP support for the food & drink industry since 1995

We offer a free consultation

We provide fixed fee quotes

We have offices in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Malta

We offer an industry leading service with short turnaround times and business-focused advice

Frequently Asked Questions

My products recipe is secret, how can I protect it?

There are many provisions under UK law which enable the confidentiality of your sensitive information.

Under UK common law there is a ‘duty of confidentiality’ which applies only to information not in the public domain which upon disclosure the recipient explicitly agrees to the extent of the confidentiality, such as a non-disclosure agreement or consent form.

This forms the basis of Trade Secrets (Enforcements Etc.) Regulations (2018) which protects information considered ‘secret’, not generally known, has commercial value due to it’s secrecy (think Colonel Sanders famous recipe) and has been subject to reasonable steps to keep it secret (you don’t quite need to keep a handwritten note in a vault however).

There are many considerations arising from these provisions such as managing trade secrets shared amongst employees, establishing secure contracts with suppliers and how to keep your information protected if you do need to pursue infringement. This is where an experienced IP law firm such as ourselves can keep your most valuable assets secure and your business protected.

What if another business copies my packaging?

Your packaging is one of your brands most visible assets, but it is so easily overlooked when it comes to legal protection. To protect this from copycats there are number of steps you can take:

Trade marks – This one can be tricky. Registering a trade mark covers aspects of your branding such as name and logo, however it can also be applied to packaging if it meets the conditions of trade marking – Is the packaging’s appearance a defining and recognisable (by the consumer) feature of your product? For example Coca Cola trade marked their famous bottle design in the EU in 1980, however in 2016 were unsuccessful in securing a trademark for an update to the bottle. Similarly Cadbury has famously trade marked the colour purple (Pantone 2685C) in the past, although as recently as 2019 lost the trade mark, now relying on design rights to protect their brand.

Design Rights – Whether registered or not your designs are protected for between 3 and 25 years. This can cover things trade marks do not, such as shape, configuration, patterns and materials. Registering your designs provides you with the greatest amount of protection and simplifies the procedure for pursuing infringers.

If you feel like you may need to take legal action to protect your brand we offer many services designed to keep you safe and resolve the issue quickly. Just get in touch and we’ll take it from there.

Does my food or drink product or packaging require a patent?

In the right circumstances patents can be one of the most versatile tools for protecting your inventions. If your new product or process meets the criteria – novelty (not publicly disclosed), inventive (it is a new and innovative step forward within the industry) and has a commercial application, you may be able to patent your product or process.

We are able to provide guidance and assistance with the viability and processing of your patent application.

Can I trade mark my food product?

You can register trade marks for elements of your food product, including the name, logo, and slogan. You can even register the colour and shape of the packaging. However, registering the actual taste or smell of a food product as a trade mark is not as simple.

We discuss this in more detail in our blog post, “Can you trade mark the taste of food?“.

Meet Our Team

Spread across offices in London and Europe, meet the specialist art lawyers on hand to help you.

Book a free consultation with one of our specialist solicitors.

We’ll start with a no obligation chat where we’ll get to know you and understand your current challenges.

Book your free consultation now

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