Cyprus wins back UK halloumi trademark

Britain is the biggest market for the popular cheese, taking nearly half of the island’s yearly production

In this photo taken Wednesday Dec. 11, 2019, Cyprus' halloumi cheese is seen roasted on a plate at "Riverland" farm in Kampia village near Nicosia, Cyprus. Cyprus' halloumi cheese, with a tradition dating back some five centuries, is the island nation's leading export. It's goat and sheep milk content makes it a hit with health-conscious cheese lovers in Europe and beyond. It's added appeal is that unlike other cheeses, it doesn't melt when heated up. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Cyprus has regained the trademark rights in Britain to its renowned halloumi cheese after an official blunder saw it lose its brand protection in 2018, officials said on Monday.

Commerce Minister George Lakkotrypis said Cyprus registered the "halloumi" trademark at the UK's Intellectual Property Office on January 31, after losing it in May 2018 through a bureaucratic blunder.

Halloumi exports to the UK from Cyprus will be protected from competition under the trademark but Cypriot farmers are still seeking Protected Designation of Origin status for the product.

"We believe this re-registration is a significant development, not only because it corrects a serious mistake made by the ministry, but because it will also ensure our exports to the UK will continue to rise, regardless of Brexit," Mr Lakkotrypis told reporters.

The UK is the biggest market for the popular squeaky cheese, absorbing 40 per cent of halloumi exports and generating around $91 million (Dh 334 million) a year.

Cyprus expects to yield $330 million in exports from halloumi by 2023.

The government has admitted it was culpable in losing the British legal battle over halloumi last time but said this success "corrected" past failures.

Cyprus lost the trademark in Britain due to the commerce ministry's failure to respond on time to applications filed by a British company, John & Pascalis Ltd, to invalidate or revoke the trademark.

A UK court ruled in favour of the company because the Cyprus government took more than a reasonable length of time to present its case.

According to the high court judgment: "The ministry's internal procedures were so disorganised that the letter enclosing the application was passed from official to official after receipt on February 9, 2018, but no action was taken."