Cypriot farmers have won back the exclusive right to trademark ‘halloumi’ cheese products, reclaiming trademark protection in the UK.
The Cypriot ministry secured trademark protection for ‘halloumi’ at the UK Intellectual Property Office in 1990, claiming it on behalf of the farmers. However, following a legal challenge brought by UK-based cheese producers, the trademark was revoked in 2018.
The trademark was renounced due to an administrative error by the Cypriot ministry, with them failing to respond to legal requests within the required time frame. The ministry has now restored the protection again, bringing an important victory for the Cypriot farmers.
“This is an important win for the Cypriot farmers and means they have regained an exclusive right to use the mark ‘halloumi’ when marketing their products in the UK. In view of the growing market for this cheese product in the UK, this is likely to prove lucrative for them,” said Fiona McBride, Partner and Trademark Attorney at European intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers.
“The farmers are unlikely to stop there, however. They have already applied for ‘protected food name’ status to the European Commission. If successful, their application for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status would bring permanent protection. However, it is likely to take time, so trademark protection in the UK will be helpful to them in the meantime.”
Offering advice to British food producers, McBride continued: “Food and drink producers in the UK may not be aware that they can apply for ‘protected food name’ status to protect produce with unique characteristics that can be linked back to a specific geographical location or defined product characteristics. However, it is best to do this as early as possible rather than waiting until they have spotted some potential misuse of that food name.”