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All You Need to Know About IPR in Food Start-ups

All You Need to Know About IPR in Food Start-ups
| Updated: Oct 22, 2021 | Category: Intellectual Property

Any business or industry requires innovation or creativity to compete and remain productive in the market, and food-related businesses are no exception to this. Nowadays, not only food but the latest technologies behind it also matter. At present, the food industry is repeatedly growing to keep up with customers’ expectations for nutritious & safer food. If cooking food is an art, then to safeguard it, one requires IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) protection. In the food business, Intellectual Property Rights extends from contents & recipes to promoting & branding the product. IPRs applicable to the food business are Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets, Patents, and Design rights. Scroll down to check the importance of IPR in Food Start-ups.

What are the different IPR in Food Start-ups?

IPR intend to safeguard the innovative & creative interests of the human brain convert into a form that could have commercial value. Following are some IPR in Food Start-ups:

  • Trademarks: Trademarks are generally governed & regulated by the Trademark Act, 1999. They are issued for ten years as given by Section 25 of the Trademark Act, 1999. In simple words, A Trademark is a type of logo, symbol, word, or name that gives your mark or brand a distinctive identity among the competitors in the market.
  • Trade Secrets: They are not covered by the statute or regulation in India but are implemented through the Indian Contract Act, 1870. Trade Secret Registration is not necessary, and contrary to Patents, they safeguard the creations for an unlimited time.
  • Patents: Patents are regulated & governed by the Patent Act, 1970 and the Patent Registration is granted for twenty years as provided by Section 53 (changed by the Patents (Amendments) Act, 2005), starting from the filing day. For Patent Registration, the following conditions should be followed:
    1. Innovative: It includes something that a skilled individual cannot do without knowing the inventive step.
    2. Uniqueness: The innovation should be unique.
    3. Commercial Pertinence: The product/idea can be commercially used.
  • Copyrights: Copyrights are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957. Copyrights are valid for the life span of the creator and added sixty years after the creator’s death, as mentioned under Section 22-29 of the Copyright Act. They are given for any artistic/literary work that is creative & unique.
  • Geographical Indicators: They are implemented through the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999. They are issued for ten years as given in Section 18 of the Act, and also it can be renewed from time to time. These aim to protect foodstuffs, drinks, agricultural products, etc., that have a stated origin & they possess particular qualities or reputation because of that origin.
  • Design Rights: These rights apply to the shape, pattern, configuration, etc., of a product or its parts, allowing the owner to make, use, and sell it. Design Registration is valid for ten years, and it can be further renewed for five years.

To obtain Design Rights, the following are the conditions that should be followed:

  1. The design should be new/original, fresh;
  2. The design should be non-obvious;
  3. The design should be appropriate to an article or work;
  4. There must be no earlier design disclosure.

Uses of IPR in Food Start-ups

IPR in food Start-ups can be used in the following ways:

  1. Trade Secrets: Most food businesses acquire a Trade Secret as there are no registration problems and costs, plus the Trade Secret is safeguarded by the Courts. The reason why KFC & Coca-Cola don’t have competition is that they choose Trade Secrets over Patents. However, Trade Secrets involve internal hassles like NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements)[1] & confidentiality with their employees. Trade Secrets assist companies or businesses in safeguarding their distinctive recipes till they are not leaked to the public. Although there are lawful outcomes for leaking a Trade Secret in the market and there is no way the company can stop opponents from stealing its secrets.
  2. Trademarks: “The Taste of India” by Amul, “Goodfood, Goodlife” by Nestle are some famous examples of popular taglines that have been trademarked by famous companies. Such taglines assist the companies in distinguishing their brand from that of competitors. Hence, every company have to invest considerable time & investment in finding a novel brand logo & name. Trademarks aid the companies to safeguard such identities, logos, and symbols that give a distinctive identity in the food business.
  3. Copyrights: Generally, Copyrights are not granted for recipes as it becomes complicated to prove who was the actual creator of the recipe. Remember that recognising the ingredient required for a dish is a fact and are not entitled to Copyright, but the literary expressions involved can be copyrighted. In the food business, one can safeguard websites, food blogs, recipe books, and so on.
  4. Patents: These are allowed in the food business are called Utility Patents. Usually, getting Patents for new recipes is a complicated process, as it is tough to prove that the recipe is not apparent or not common for an individual who is a professional chef. But, this doesn’t mean that Patents cannot be filled in the food business. The applicant can file a Patent application for the process, packaging, new additives, labelling, etc. Patents can be given for a new working step that is added to the food-making process, which boosts the food products’ quality.
  5. Geographical Indicators: Such rights are not used by recipe creators or authors, but they come in handy when the food product involves some qualities that come from that area; one can try going for protection under geographical indicators. For e.g., Darjeeling Tea.

Conclusion

India has an immense diversity in food, its preparation, techniques ranging from North to South and East to West, and yet many of us are not much aware of how to safeguard our heritage. With the entry of multinational food restaurants in India, the threat of domination exists. To avoid this, we need to understand more regarding IPR in Food Start-ups.

Read our article:Creation of IP division by the Delhi High Court – An Overview

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A legal writing enthusiast, a wanderer, and a zealous reader. After gaining a lot of knowledge about the diverse legal topics and developing research skills, Karan joined the league of legal content writers to deliver quality-rich blogs.

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