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There are two main forms of protection a food business should consider:
The first is a Non Disclosure Agreement, or NDA, which both parties sign before they start discussions. This protects the concept from being copied by whoever you are speaking to – this could be a retailer, a contract packaging business or anyone else involved in the production and sale of your product.
The second is by using patents, trademarks and other measures which can protect certain elements of a product such as processes and designs.
Peter Bennett, head of Roythornes Food team said, “It’s often the case that firms put so much energy and passion into their products that they neglect the paperwork, and one of the areas where this is crucial is in the protection of their products or concepts.
“We had a case recently where a manufacturer sat down with a major retailer to demonstrate their innovative concept with a view to getting a listing. To cut a long story short, the retailer took the idea to a cheaper manufacturer and now the idea is on their shelves and the originator has nothing to show from it.
“For a sector that thrives on innovation and design, it’s worrying how little attention people sometimes pay to protecting their ideas. These aspects only come to light when a ‘copycat’ product is on the shelves, by which time it’s often too late to take action without incurring additional costs. Like many ‘insurances’ it’s only needed when you need it but when you do you’re glad that you have it.”
Roythornes has produced a free guide to protecting innovation in the food sector: click here