The food industry is one of the most important industries in the world economy. Almost 10 % of total employment is based on the food sector. The food sector has total sales of $1.4 trillion. In such a vast economy sector many brands stand strong with their unique products, taste, packaging ideas and marketing strategies.
Any Idea that comes in your mind regarding food production is a freely open intellectual property unless and until it gets protected. Anyone can steal your idea and start trading in the same product but you cannot file any complaint against or report anywhere as you don’t have any documentation regarding the protection of IP. In this way, you may lose your product for which you struggled up many nights.
The intellectual property protection (IP Protection) covers many things from the very first step of manufacturing i.e. production of ingredients, creation of recipes to the last steps like labeling, marketing, and branding of the final product. It helps the manufacturer to protect his idea.
IP protection in the food industry includes Trademarks, Design Protection, Patent Rights and trade secrets. Many big food brands, as well as small food shops & small food manufacturers, also own trademarks to protect their food products from being copied. Trademarks are not limited to only pre-packaged foods. Cookies, cakes or any other food item can have its trademark. The chef, the restaurant also can be covered under trademark law. Trademarks play an essential role in the branding strategy of a company. The consumer can identify the food product by its logo, word, design or slogan. The unique and creatively distinct design of a trademark helps to protect it easily. Coca Cola, Kit Kat, KFC are some of the big brands having a distinct trademark.
Patenting a new food product having new ingredients, preparation process, and unique design helps a lot. A packaging idea to deliver food freshly to the consumer can also be patented. The ‘tetra pack’ is one of the best examples for this. Patents are useful in protecting your food product as it makes difficult to imitate the production process. The owner of the original idea can sue the imitator with the help of patent law.
Design protection can be another way to protect your IP. The design can be copied easily. So copyrighting the design is the best way to protect your product. Coca Cola has designed their bottle with a unique copyrighted design that no one can copy. The packaging is one of the important factors in the food industry. With a distinct concept of packaging, a company makes branding strategies that help them to grow in the market and to make their products look different. If such packaging idea got stolen then anyone can imitate your product which can lead to a big loss. By copyrighting such packaging and product design one can protect IP.
You might have tried the recipe of your favourite food by a well-known brand, after many attempts of cooking with the guidance of some food hack channel on YouTube or a cookery book you still can’t find the same taste or structure of the food as same as the branded food product. Here protection of IP which means Intellectual Property works at its best. Every company keeps its trade secrets like ingredients or the process of preparation, etc. Whenever working with the third party, companies sign a contract while sharing their secret.
The idea is protected once it is in your mind. Once you disclose it in public it doesn’t remain yours unless and until you protect it by law. Protecting your IP is the most important thing in an era of a large competitive market.