Customers have many options for the same goods in a world where innumerable food and beverage businesses are opening up every single day. In such circumstances, they frequently make judgements based on what they already know about a food brand as a result of its branding.

Today’s food production methods, technology, and research are all of equal importance. A trademark, which is an intangible asset, includes an item’s name, design, packaging, reputation, history, and other features, and acts as a selling point for your goods and services. Trademarks may have a big impact on what people decide to buy. By encouraging customer loyalty and brand identification, it aids enterprises in achieving these objectives and enhances their reputation.

Asian Food Industry

Due to its scale, the food sector in the Asian area is crucial to the prospects for the region’s economic development. In Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan, the food and beverage industries were valued in 2000 at $32 billion, $67 billion, and $46 billion, respectively. [i] These are undoubtedly large sums, and it is clear that the food sector is essential to the area’s possibilities for economic development. Regional vendors often serve this industry’s demands.

Due to the increasing popularity of Asian cuisines in the market, both domestic and international, companies are rushing for the ownership of certain elements of cultures.

Food can be viewed as a symbol of identity in general, and in some ways, food is what unites people all over the world. It can be seen in the kosher dietary requirements of the Jewish, the halal dietary standards of Muslims, or the food purity norms of the Hindu tradition. Christianity emphasises the significance of food as a marker of identity by making a communal meal the focal point of ritualistic activities. Different eating habits also distinguish the higher class from the lower class in some of the more secular societies.

Hence, when it comes to even the simplest of foods, such as rice, there is a race as to who can own what. The national identity, religious legacy, and cultural traditions of Laos are significantly influenced by glutinous rice. While jasmine rice is readily available throughout Southeast Asia, long-grain rice is popular in China, and short-grain rice is popular in Japan. Basmati rice is popular across the Indian subcontinent.

These are the simplest ways for how a restaurant or an F&B corporation trademark its identity in a way to own that cultural aspect and makes it seem as authentic as possible.

Trademarking Process

IPR is the way to protect the art of cooking. More than just brand names and logos, the intellectual property includes trade secrets, copyrights, design rights, recipes and more. Unusual and obscure products, preparation techniques, and processes are inventive and patentable in the food sector, particularly if they provide unexpected outcomes and previously unknown discoveries.

There has been an upsurge in the trademarking of modern culinary methods, which are currently quite popular and make use of cutting-edge equipment, inventive formulations, and even the discovery of new food sources and ingredients.

The same colours, patterns, and product names are regularly used by businesses in the F&B industry to attract customers. Since “red” is a common colour in the industry, it makes sense that many businesses may use it. However, too much resemblance between two brands could mislead customers and lead to trademark dilution.

One of the most common examples is between McDonald’s, the popular fast-food chain, and Mr. Charlie’s, which is a vegan restaurant, based in LA, California. Both corporations use red and yellow as their primary colour. Customers will find it more difficult to discern the McDonald’s brand because Mr. Charlie’s used a colour scheme that is close to the packaging for McDonald’s products in this case.

So now, when consumers see the Mr. Charlie’s trademark, they probably think of McDonald’s. This is a case of trademark dilution that can be easily defended by either side, but it is clear to the public that Mr. Charlie’s is probably trying to capitalise off of McDonald’s popularity and customer base.

The Importance of Branding

Branding is just as important in today’s market as the product itself, and food firms are no different. In the marketing field, the word “brand” has several different connotations. Contrarily, in the context of intellectual property, it is defined as “a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.”

Instead of the actual product being sold, the brand itself is frequently what influences consumers when it comes to food products.

An example can be taken in the context of “Dunkin Donuts,” where the consumers may be well familiar with the taste and reputation of the brand. Anything whose quality cannot be trusted will frequently be passed over a doughnut from “Dunkin Donuts.”

Additionally, branding can be quickly modified to reflect shifting customer preferences. For instance, people today want food with low-sugar or sugar-free.

To meet these requests, a company can create variants that are reduced in sugar. “Nestle” offers numerous food mix options that are sugar-free. Due to “Nestle’s” reputation for dependable product quality, people frequently choose its products over those of unknown brands, even if they might be providing the same product the same way. The difference is the branding. [ii]


A common question appears in the minds of all – Is trademarking even necessary?

In essence, the “First to Use” principle is embedded in Indian law, which allows for the primary use to take place anywhere on Earth along with the trans-fringe notoriety of the imprint there. It doesn’t exist or isn’t used in the Indian market, but it nevertheless gets the job done there.

If an unregistered brand changes its logo, packaging, product name, or prices, it faces the risk of losing customers. The intangible goodwill asset created by the brand’s trademark application is essentially this unwavering faith in the products’ quality.

For instance, people would prefer buying an expensive cake if they trust its quality standards than risk trusting a new or cheaper brand.

Intellectual property rights protect this brand value generated over the years, ensuring that competitors do not profit from posing as a registered food brand. Since health, hygiene, and safety cannot be compromised when it comes to food, quality in general is essential for building customer trust.

[i] McKay J. (2007). Food industry and economic development in the Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition16 Suppl 1, 80–84.

[ii] Why Is Trademark Important In The Food Industry | Trademark Patent. (2017, October 25). Why Is Trademark Important in the Food Industry | Trademark Patent.



Ananya Behera is a 2nd-year student at NLUJA Assam and is currently pursuing five years integrated BA.LL.B course, with an avid interest in IPR and arbitration and mediation.

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