12 Nov 2012

Honey producers taking legal action against Germans

10:41 am on 12 November 2012

Producers are taking legal action against two Germans they say are trying to undermine the manuka honey industry.

The UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, says manuka honey is worth more than $100 million to New Zealand and overseas companies often try to take advantage of the brand.

Association president John Rawcliffe says one German man is trying to trademark the word 'manuka' in Europe - even though he has no connection to honey production.

Mr Rawcliffe says the man appears to want the trademark so he can sell it back to New Zealand producers.

Another German is trying to make an additive allowing normal honey to mimic some of the anti-bacterial properties of manuka honey, he says.

An intellectual property lawyer, Earl Gray, says the additive's maker would have to prove they are not misleading consumers into believing their product is the same as New Zealand honey.

Mr Gray says the trademark ploy is unlikely to succeed, because manuka is internationally recognised as a word for New Zealand honey.