Business & IP Centre Devon

IP Corner: The Fight for ‘Halloumi’

IP Corner: The Fight for 'Halloumi'

We all love halloumi. In fact, Britons love halloumi so much that we account for 40% of Cyprus’s exports of it. So as we approach the end of a barbecue-filled summer, let’s explore the reasons why the nation’s favourite grilled cheese was recently at the center of a long and tense battle over IP rights… First, let’s look at why stakeholders (in this case, Cyprus) might want to trademark a term like ‘halloumi’ and why it is so valuable. Trademarks are used to protect the use of the term ‘halloumi’, which is used to ensure that rival cheesemakers outside Cyprus cannot call their product by this name. Given that exports of the cheese were worth £229 million in 2020, any IP rights protecting this interest are incredibly valuable.
One form of IP protection that was applied to this cheese is one for ‘origin foods’ within the EU. This limits the use of a product’s name to a group of regional producers. Sounds straightforward… but there’s a catch. Once obtained, a product must be made according to its traditional recipe. For halloumi, this means being made with 51 percent goat or sheep’s milk, making it much more expensive. Many producers had been making the cheese with mostly cow’s milk, in some cases as much as 90%!
Another issue here is that recognising IP rights to an ‘origin food’ suggests a nation’s claim over that food. This would prove fraught in the case of halloumi due to the island’s long-standing Greek-Turkish political tensions.
So that’s how halloumi cheese caused uproar amongst Cypriot farmers and fueled political tensions in one fell swoop… all in the name of IP!
Trying to work out how the trademarking process can work for your business? We’ve got a lot more information and detailed explainers on all things IP here!

Get the latest news & events

Get Expert Help