Wednesday, 9th September, 2015

All in good taste

Gingernuts, Squiggles, MallowPuffs and Eta savoury snacks. They’re amongst our most reached-for pleasures, so it makes sense to keep them safe.

It's one of New Zealand's iconic companies, with a 150-year heritage and a catalogue of our favourite biscuit and snack brands - including Cookie Bear, Huntley & Palmers, Eta, and Nice & Natural. We've managed to keep these treats to ourselves for some time, but over recent years Griffin's has expanded offshore and now consumers throughout Asia Pacific and beyond are enjoying them too.

Griffin's is determined to protect its brands and the intellectual property it's built up over the years, says General Manager Sales and Marketing Josette Prince. With previous experience in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), Prince understands the importance of protecting Griffin's trade marks internationally. In 2007 she brought AJ Park on board to help, and has worked closely with trade mark and branding specialists Amanda Griffiths and John Hackett for the last seven years. 

'In that time, we've filed over 230 trade mark applications in countries around the world. They've been fantastic and their experience and expertise in IP is extremely valuable.'

Griffin's now has trade marks in 24 countries, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region, but it has a total of 374 trade mark registrations and applications, including in the US, the UK and across Europe.

'Having been a locally focused business for so long, we hadn't done much international IP protection, so in those first few years with AJ Park, there was a lot of work to do,' says Prince. 'It's been a significant, but very worthwhile, investment for Griffin's'.

AJ Park has helped us develop a robust IP strategy that we can execute in the most cost-effective way possible. Filing 230 applications is a lot of work, and they've done that in the best way commercially, prioritising protection of our marks so we don't incur all that expense in one year.

- Josette Prince, Griffin's

Senior associate Amanda Griffiths says a priority has been to assess Griffin's IP portfolio and develop a clear strategy and tracking system to detail brand protection in each territory.

'We give Griffin's quarterly schedules and summaries so they can track the status of each of their marks. We worked closely with Josette to analyse and fill the gaps in their protection both locally and overseas, ensuring their major brands were covered.'

FMCG is a competitive industry, so AJ Park operates a watching service for all applications filed in New Zealand and Australia in the food classes relevant to Griffin's products. This helps Griffin's monitor what's happening in the industry so they can be proactive and avoid surprises, says Griffiths. 'Given the size of Griffin's IP portfolio - the number of marks and countries involved - we're constantly monitoring things to make sure it's as strong as possible,' she says.

Prince says Griffin's has seen significant growth in its export business over the last seven years so the investment in protecting its IP has been worthwhile.

'Griffin's has recently been acquired by Universal Robina Corporation (URC) who are market leader in Biscuits & Snacks in the Phillipines and a number of other ASEAN countries. URC were attracted to the quality of our brands, our New Zealand manufacturing base, and the work we've done to protect our trade marks was also important to them.'

'Protecting our IP hasn't been clear-cut everywhere. Some applications for word marks have been deemed 'descriptive and generic'. AJ Park has been fantastic in helping with filing submissions and we've had some really good success at turning around a number of those decisions.'

Aside from the obvious benefits, Amanda Griffiths says she enjoys working with Griffin's and found it particularly satisfying to watch the company grow its iconic brands internationally.

 

Written by Diedre Coleman, an edited version of this client story featured in the January/February 2015 issue of Idealog magazine.