Manuka Health New Zealand has established itself as a world leader in the natural health science industry by investing in R&D and carefully protecting its intellectual property.
Humans have collected and used honey for at least 10,000 years for medicinal and culinary purposes. But, it was only six years ago, that German scientists identified a chemical compound found in New Zealand's manuka honey called methylglyoxal, and established a correlation with the honey's antibacterial activity.
New Zealand company Manuka Health, founded by Kerry Paul, funded the research and was subsequently the first company to use these findings commercially. Manuka Health now exports its 70-plus nutraceutical, supplement and medical device products, derived from New Zealand's unique flora and fauna, to around 45 countries.
Manuka Health has since trade marked its MGO Manuka Honey in order to help consumers identify manuka honey products with the highest methylglyoxal levels.
Since producing its first jar of honey in August 2006, Manuka Health has invested heavily in research and development, investigating the clinical and medical applications of New Zealand manuka honey. Protecting its technology and processes is crucial, and that's where Partner John Hackett came in. Hackett began helping Manuka Health just a few months after the company was set up.
'Manuka Health initially approached us for some copyright advice,' says Hackett. 'Six months later, Kerry contacted me to secure protection for the MGO brand and logo, and to eventually secure registration around the world.'
Paul says AJ Park was fundamental in helping carry out the trade mark process for MGO efficiently:
John Hackett is an experienced trade mark attorney and he lets us know if we're not going down right track.- Kerry Paul, Manuka Health
Being involved early in the research and development process and pursuing patent protection meant AJ Park could advise on how best to protect new developments and products, ensuring opportunities that could lead to a competitive advantage aren't missed.
Hackett has also overseen the registration process for brands, including the MGO and BIO30 logos - CycloPower and The Green Clinic - with trade marks protected in more than 40 countries.
Safeguarding this important intellectual property is an ongoing process, with new products and technologies regularly being developed and tested. In April 2011, Manuka Health launched a world-first - the HydroGel dressing; a honey-infused bandage designed to revolutionise wound care by drawing fluid away from a wound and then clear up infection.
Written by Deirdre Coleman, an edited version of this case study was featured in #38 of Idealog. Photo courtesy of Jessie Casson.