SA seeks to protect Rooibos name

Generic file photo
Generic file photo

Rooibos producers are rushing to protect the use of the local tea's name after a French company applied to have exclusive trademarks in that country.

SA Rooibos Council co-ordinator Soekie Snyman said they were applying to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in the next two weeks for certification of "rooibos" in South Africa.

It would also help the government secure the use of the term in Europe.

Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands account for almost 70 percent of rooibos exports.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies had already asked the European Union's ambassador to South Africa, Roeland van de Geer, to protect "rooibos" and two other agricultural food products as geographical indicators (GI) in the European Union (EU).

Intellectual property lawyer Rowan Foster told the newspaper GI protection meant no company could claim exclusive rights over the name in the whole of Europe.

Getting GI protection would be recognition that tea was a unique product of South Africa, he said. It was the first time the country had applied to the EU to protect a food product's name under the GI legislation.

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