4 February 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

‘Huge sigh of relief’ after Cyprus regains ‘Halloumi’ TM

Cyprus has regained its UK trademark registration for ‘Halloumi’, after it was invalidated due to what is believed to be an administrative error.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) published the newly restored mark on January 31. The IPO cancelled the mark in May 2018 after the Cypriot Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry missed the deadline to respond to a legal challenge.

Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said a “serious mistake made by the commerce ministry” had been corrected.

Cypriot officials are looking to make watertight the legal restrictions on how the name ‘halloumi’ can be used, leading to a dispute with cheese makers and distributors in other countries.

The challenge to the UK ‘Halloumi’ trademark was originally brought by UK company John & Pascalis in December 2017.

Fiona McBride, partner at Withers & Rogers, said it was an “important win for the Cypriot farmers”.

“It means they have regained an exclusive right to use the mark ‘Halloumi’ when marketing their products in the UK. In view of the growing market for this cheese product in the UK, this is likely to prove lucrative for them,” McBride said.

Cyprus is currently in the process of trying to obtain an EU protected designation of origin (PDO) registration, the strongest level of protection available linked to the geographic origin of a product.

The PDO would mean that all stages of production of goods bearing an ‘Halloumi’ PDO label must take place in Cyprus, using exclusively Cypriot ingredients.

Cyprus’ application was likely to “take time”, said McBride, “so trademark protection will be helpful to them in the meantime”.

John Coldham, partner at Gowling WLG, said that Cypriot officials would be “breathing a huge sigh of relief” after reobtaining the mark.

“Although the Cypriot government will be pleased to have got back its valuable registration, this somewhat embarrassing series of events is a useful lesson in the importance of complying with deadlines set by the IPO,” Coldham said.

The Cypriot government has also previously tried to stop individual producers and collectives from monopolising rights to the name.

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7 January 2021   An association of Cypriot Halloumi producers clashed with the EUIPO over its validation of the mark ‘BBQloumi’, but a decision by the CJEU has given it cause to celebrate. Michael Tennant of Tennant IP reports.
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