The Cornish pasty is now protected – what does that mean for brands and intellectual property?

Cornish PastyFor years the French and other European countries have protected their local food products. The British have lagged behind but are now slowly catching up, and the latest product to achieve European protected status is the mighty Cornish Pasty. Of course we are all pleased to see local producer secure a measure of protection for their products, but what are the implication for brands and the associated intellectual properties?

One major food brand, Ginsters, have already capitalised on the opportunity with a fanfare on their website and a draw to win a pair of commemorative cufflinks… wow! I’m sure that locality and tradition, that can be seen as important and beneficial brand values can be great assets: one only has to consider the example of Scotch whisky to appreciate their importance. While not attributable to any single brand, protected status could well be treated as a brand in terms of valuation. For example, if each Scottish distillery had to license the nomenclature ‘Scotch’, what would be its value? It would be interesting to do a valuation exercise on the ‘Cornish’ appellation.

I have some sympathy for the many ‘Cornish’ Pasty shops all over the UK, baking some fine products on their premises from Dover to Doncaster, Swansea to Sunderland, who will have to embark on a re-branding exercise to drop the ‘Cornish’ tag. As with whisky and whiskey, the protectionism associated with Scotch may have provided an added spur to differentiated products such as Irish, Bourbon and Canadian whiskies – even Welsh and English I hear, not to mention Japanese. The Devon pasty is already a differentiated product and perhaps we me soon see a crop of regional pasties following hot on their heels.

Well, this is all interesting food for thought – but I’m off to see if the name ‘tiddy oggy’ is registerable.


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