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An IP Australia analysis of innovation trends for substitute meat, released on 25 June 2020, shows increased patent activity in the areas of imitation meat and lab-grown meat.

Patenting trends often provide useful insights into emerging industry trends, as R&D activity frequently occurs in areas where future opportunities are seen to exist.

imitation meat

IP Australia’s research shows that from the year 2000 onwards, 258 relevant patent families were lodged internationally. Of those 258, 55 were filed in 2017, the most recent full year covered by the analysis. There has been a steady increase in patent filings in the most recent years, with patents covering plant-derived products as well as meat substitutes derived from non-meat animal products such as milk and eggs.

Interestingly Australia is the fifth-largest filing destination for these patents, with 33 filings compared to 167 in China and 66 in the US. Much of the innovation is being driven by a few Chinese companies, especially in recent years when patent filings originating in China have increased while countries like the US, Japan and Germany tapered off. Australian companies did not make it into the top 10 of filings.

lab-grown meat

The analysis also covered patents covering lab-gown meat, where patented innovation has been much slower. Ten patent families were identified, five lodged between 2000 and 2004 and another five between 2011 and 2017. China, Europe and the US were the primary filing destinations with four patents each, while Australia sits just behind with three patents, in equal 4th place with Canada, South Korea and Japan.

implications

A few conclusions can be drawn from IP Australia’s analysis:

  1. China’s position as the pre-eminent destination for patent filings points to its importance as a market for such products. Australian food producers should be mindful of export opportunities to a market that a lot of smart money has tipped as worth protecting through patent registration.
  2. Lower level of patent filings into countries other than China represent their own opportunities for Australian food producers. While innovations may be protected by patents in China and to a lesser extent in the US and Europe, those same innovations may be safely exploited in other countries where they remain unprotected. For example 31% – 33% of the Indian population, or approximately 375 million people, are thought to be vegetarian. Yet India is not among the top 10 filing destinations for imitation meat patents. According to Austrade, India is the fastest growing large economy in the world and with a rapidly growing middle class, Austrade expects consumer demand for quality food products is expected to grow.
  3. As with any export opportunities for Australian food manufacturers, ensuring that products can be sold in the destination market without infringing local trade marks and patents is critical. Intended trade marks should be identified, vetted and registered before products are offered to local distributors, wholesalers, retailers or consumers. With innovative food products like imitation or lab-grown meat, it is also important to ensure that no local patents will be infringed by importing or selling the products in another country.

Through its membership of the Multilaw network of international law firms, the Macpherson Kelley IP team is able to assist clients not just with their Australian legal needs, but also the protection, use and licensing of IP internationally and fully realising any export opportunities.

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Bringing home the bacon through imitation meat innovation

29 June 2020
nils versemann

An IP Australia analysis of innovation trends for substitute meat, released on 25 June 2020, shows increased patent activity in the areas of imitation meat and lab-grown meat.

Patenting trends often provide useful insights into emerging industry trends, as R&D activity frequently occurs in areas where future opportunities are seen to exist.

imitation meat

IP Australia’s research shows that from the year 2000 onwards, 258 relevant patent families were lodged internationally. Of those 258, 55 were filed in 2017, the most recent full year covered by the analysis. There has been a steady increase in patent filings in the most recent years, with patents covering plant-derived products as well as meat substitutes derived from non-meat animal products such as milk and eggs.

Interestingly Australia is the fifth-largest filing destination for these patents, with 33 filings compared to 167 in China and 66 in the US. Much of the innovation is being driven by a few Chinese companies, especially in recent years when patent filings originating in China have increased while countries like the US, Japan and Germany tapered off. Australian companies did not make it into the top 10 of filings.

lab-grown meat

The analysis also covered patents covering lab-gown meat, where patented innovation has been much slower. Ten patent families were identified, five lodged between 2000 and 2004 and another five between 2011 and 2017. China, Europe and the US were the primary filing destinations with four patents each, while Australia sits just behind with three patents, in equal 4th place with Canada, South Korea and Japan.

implications

A few conclusions can be drawn from IP Australia’s analysis:

  1. China’s position as the pre-eminent destination for patent filings points to its importance as a market for such products. Australian food producers should be mindful of export opportunities to a market that a lot of smart money has tipped as worth protecting through patent registration.
  2. Lower level of patent filings into countries other than China represent their own opportunities for Australian food producers. While innovations may be protected by patents in China and to a lesser extent in the US and Europe, those same innovations may be safely exploited in other countries where they remain unprotected. For example 31% – 33% of the Indian population, or approximately 375 million people, are thought to be vegetarian. Yet India is not among the top 10 filing destinations for imitation meat patents. According to Austrade, India is the fastest growing large economy in the world and with a rapidly growing middle class, Austrade expects consumer demand for quality food products is expected to grow.
  3. As with any export opportunities for Australian food manufacturers, ensuring that products can be sold in the destination market without infringing local trade marks and patents is critical. Intended trade marks should be identified, vetted and registered before products are offered to local distributors, wholesalers, retailers or consumers. With innovative food products like imitation or lab-grown meat, it is also important to ensure that no local patents will be infringed by importing or selling the products in another country.

Through its membership of the Multilaw network of international law firms, the Macpherson Kelley IP team is able to assist clients not just with their Australian legal needs, but also the protection, use and licensing of IP internationally and fully realising any export opportunities.