Food For Thought

Patent for inventions: hi-tech gizmos, new pharma drugs, new energy sources…. The technology list goes on and on . Like wise for Trademark. Trademarks for Brands: Coke, Shell, Apple,… And food Yes food. A few years ago Wall’s the UK ice cream manufacturer managed to patent its sophisticated multi-layer Vienetta dessert, which retailed in the UK and Europe, but most of the IP in the food industry doesn’t see the light of day. Certainly there will be IP – know how and patents – on food production processes and man made food stuffs. Important grist to the mill of industry, both the food industry and IP industry. But recently Kraft, makers of much beloved Oreos, and Hershey of great chocolate fame have found themselves on different sides of two delectable disputes.

Kraft has started a law suit against Indian food manufacturer Britannia Industries based on copyright (sic), and trademark and other rights, in Oreos, their flagship cookie. Yes, biscuit copyright. Mmm, tasty. Meanwhile, Hershey is on the receiving end of copyright suit from Hottrix over an iPhone app that simulated the drinking of chocolate milk. Yes, its frothy man. Ok, tasteless humour aside, there is delightfully surprise in discovering anew that IP knows no bounds. It is everywhere. Used in practical everything we use. Created by us. Bartered, traded, bought and sold by us, continually in a our daily lives. Some IP is tenuous, fragile – biscuit copyright? – but put the bits and pieces together – like copyright, trademarks… – and you get something you can use as a business asset. Whether you large taking on a would be competitor or small taking on a major player, put your IP together, build a “portfolio”, and you have something not only useful, but valuable.

And it is important to remember that IP is ubiquitous. We can easily forget. but it exists wherever we use our brains, apply our minds, and create and discover and invent, or simply cook, there will be IP. Some of it we will protect with patents and trademarks, or will be automatically protected by copyright, other IP, like know how – in recipes for example – we keep secret to keep its value. All in all IP has something to delight your taste buds, whatever your taste in cookies and chocolate.

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