Government objects to French firm’s attempt to trademark ‘rooibos’

"The department of trade and industry together with the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, has raised its objection with the French Embassy in South Africa as well as with the European Commission Delegation in Pretoria. These engagements will be further intensified to seek an acceptable resolution to the matter," the department said in a statement on Thursday.

The Business Day reported earlier this month that the "rooibos industry is fighting to protect its intellectual property after a French company applied to register a number of trademarks incorporating the terms 'South African Rooibos' and 'Rooibos' last year.

The report added if the company was successful "it would own the exclusive rights to the names of any rooibos products sold in France, a key market in the European Union, which is the biggest export market for rooibos".

In a response, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies on Thursday said, "The [department] stands ready to defend South Africa's trade and intellectual property interests vigorously. However, the issues in this particular matter will require an urgent assessment of the legal options to strengthen protection of the Rooibos name in South Africa.

This is not the first time a foreign firm has attempted to capture the intellectual property associated with Rooibos. As in the 2005 case that took place in the United States, the [department] will support the local industry to protect our mutual trade and economic interests."


Staple in SA
"As all South Africans know, Rooibos tea is made from the leaves of a unique shrub, indigenous only to South Africa. In addition, a number of Rooibos products in South Africa are already protected by South Africa's domestic trademark legislation. The registration of such a trademark in France could have a significant negative impact on South Africa's exports of Rooibos products to France, and the [department] is co-operating with the local Rooibos industry to ensure that South Africa's trade interests are not unfairly compromised," the department said.

A staple tea in many homes in South Africa, the health benefits of rooibos, long part of South African cultural lore, are only beginning to be properly verified through rapidly growing scientific research, reported the Mail & Guardian last year.

The tea, which is closer to a herbal infusion known as a tisane, has been linked to the prevention of certain types of cancer as well as heart disease. It grows in hardy bushes amid the Cape’s uniquely diverse fynbos floral kingdom.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Covid-19 vaccines offer hope as world leaders plan for future

Hopes over Covid-19 vaccines have given a boost to virus-weary citizens across the globe, but the disease remains rampant and world leaders are urging people to be patient

$500m for Covid test, treat, vaccine

France, Spain, the European Commission and Britain as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged money for equity in the treatment of Covid-19

South Africa has surplus food, but we need to intercept it

One third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. We can reduce hunger if we collaborate

Tax the super rich and raise inflation to cut state debt, inequality and poverty

The richest 10% of South Africans own over 85% of all private wealth and a once-off 25% tax would reduce government debt by more than half. Imagine what a five-year wealth tax could do

The European companies that armed the Ivorian civil war

AN OCCRP investigation reveals that Gunvor and Semlex brokered weapons-for-oil deals in early 2011 when Côte d’Ivoire was in crisis, despite a UN arms embargo

Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza: Liberating Africa from land of liberté

The cultural and political activist is on a quest to bring looted treasures back home
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…