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Food and beverage

There are two key trends in food and beverage innovation:

  1. Innovation in food is trending: with everything from alternative proteins, to low sugar and sweetener alternatives, from prebiotics and probiotics, to low and no alcohol drinks. These and many other health advances are increasing in value; and
  2. Australian, New Zealand and Southeast Asian retailers are selling generic versions of products invented by food and beverage companies.

It has never been more critical for food and beverage companies to utilise the patent system to protect their products in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. By doing so, these companies increase their brand value and have more leverage with the retailers that they supply.

Food and beverage

An issue particular to food companies is that the time from conception of the invention to market launch is much shorter than in other industries where regulatory approval is required before a product can be legally commercialised. What this means is that infringement assessment is more frequently required for food and beverage inventions on a more urgent basis, that is, before the scope of rights would be determined under a standard timeline. The ready availability of expedited examination in many jurisdictions including Australia allows us to progress prosecution ready for the pace of this market.

An additional advantage for the food and beverage industry in Australia is that product by process claims are allowable, irrespective of whether the product itself is patently distinct from other products known at the relevant time. The relative ease of patenting in Australia and New Zealand means that these countries will remain of interest to multinational food companies and as a consequence, the patent landscape is relatively complex.

Given the need for regular and frequent infringement assessments, our focus is on providing cost-effective and yet comprehensive patent searching and assessment and we have developed a staggered, stepwise model for doing so for our Australian, New Zealand and foreign multinational clients.

We also draw on a team of patent attorneys having expertise in chemistry, biotechnology and food technology to provide a highly experienced technical team for patent drafting, prosecution, portfolio management, and to provide freedom to operate advice.

Our technical range of expertise includes:

  • Sugar, low sugar products, and natural or artificial sweeteners
  • Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
  • Industrial food processing (including meat, dairy, sugar, plant and waste processing and biomass fermentation)
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Cellular agriculture and associated methods including development of meat, seafood, dairy, microbial or plant-based substitutes or cell-culture derived products
  • Alternative proteins
  • Baking and fermentation including novel microbial strains and their uses
  • Aquaculture and other farming technology
  • Prebiotic and probiotic products and their production

Our expertise in action

We manage the patent estate of one of Australia’s largest food companies and one of Australia’s largest beverage companies on a global basis. The work involves novelty searching, patent drafting, filing and prosecution and infringement searching. We are also closely involved with managing outsourced research on behalf of these clients.

We have advised a multinational food and baking company, an Australian food and supplement company and an Australian beverage company on the infringement risks pertaining to release of their commercial products. This work involved the formulation of complex search strategies and assessment of large numbers of patents. Our comprehensive analyses and recommendations based on our awareness of our client’s business goals enabled our clients to confidently release their products for sale in Australia.

Key contacts

Karen Bentley

Principal, Melbourne | BAppSc (Hons), PhD, MIP Law

Carol Burnton

Associate Principal, Melbourne | BSc (Hons), LLB (Hons), LLM, Dip PC Form, MRACI

Sarah Hennebry

Associate Principal, Melbourne | BSc (Hons), BA, PhD, MIP Law
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