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The name 'biltong' may be trademarked. Will others have to call it 'dried meat?

24 June 2021 8:20 AM
Tags:
Biltong
trademark
dried meat

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Darren Olivier, partner and head of IP commercialisation at Adams and Adams law.
  • Legal IP expert explains how Geographical Indication trademarks work
  • Rooibos industry's decades-long journey has lead the way for other industries such as the biltong industry says Darren Olivier

Copyright : John Mcnamara / 123rf

Last week the breakfast show played a clip from Deutsche Welle on South African Biltong manufacturers who are pushing to trademark the term in the hopes of boosting profits and growing markets internationally. And that got us thinking, how realistic is it that they will get this geographical trademark, says Refilwe Moloto.

She says we saw this happening with Rooibos, although, unlike biltong, the tea is only grown here, and thus has a geographical trademark.

The process of making biltong is not exclusive to South African. Our neighbouring countries, like Namibia, also make it.

Refilwe chats to Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation at Adams &Adams about the requirements and process of getting a geographical trademark and whether this idea is realistic.

It is possible, but it is a long and tricky road to get the protection.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

He says the Geographical Indication (GI) status has been around for many years and names can be protected under collective or certified trademarks, an example the “Karoo Lamb” which was registered in 2019.

With the European partnership agreement that was stuck with the European Union around 2016, we have reciprocal protection with our largest trading partner the EU - meaning we have to respect Champagne and all the other geographical indications registered in the EU and they have to respect ours, as long as they qualify as geographical indications.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has created a new register where applications can be made, he notes.

And Rooibos has [applied]. I dare say Rooibos's journey to get this through has taken at least 20 years.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

In many respects, they [Rooibos] have paved the way for industries like the biltong industry, to take advantage of these provisions.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

He says Champagne is a good example of a product that has built a reputation and quality that is incomparable to any other sparkling wine in the world.

What the biltong manufacturers have noted is that there is huge value and curiosity in the biltong brand and that it has just been used overseas without control.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

He says the outcome of this usage and lack of control is twofold.

One it erodes the value of South African connection and secondly, it enables them to change it so that biltong is no longer biltong.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

What are the challenges in obtaining geographical indication status?

One of the issues in getting protection for a geographical indication is you have to show it is not a generic or a common name, and that's going to be a major hurdle because the onus will be on the producers to show that the genie hasn't left the lamp and if it has they first have to put it back - and then make the application.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

This will involve costs and time he says.

And getting the geographical indication is only one thing - enforcing it is another - and requires resources and drive.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams

He says countries can also cooperate on such an application so for example. South Africa and large-scale biltong producer Namibia could work together to make this happen.

It could protect both regions.

Darren Olivier, Partner and Head of IP Commercialisation - Adams &Adams



24 June 2021 8:20 AM
Tags:
Biltong
trademark
dried meat

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