A British expat living in New Zealand is fighting for his right to import the British version of Marmite after customs officers seized his haul of 2,000 jars due to copyright laws.
Rob Savage, who runs a food import company, has been importing the spread for a number of years to sell to his fellow expats. However, New Zealand based manufacturers Sanitarium have stepped in to stop Savage from taking delivery of the jars on the basis that selling Marmite would be an infringement of their trademark. The company have been making a marmite style spread, also called Marmite, since 1919. However, critics believe that it lacks the taste of the original as it uses a different recipe and is often described as having a less strong taste.
Sanitarium's general manager Pierre van Heerden said that the company has held the trademarks to both Marmite and Weet-Bix (similar to cereal Weetabix) since the 1920s and were trying to protect their brand by having the jars seized.
"This is a service New Zealand Customs makes available to any organisation seeking to protect a registered business trade mark and prevent potential trade mark infringements. Many organisations have a similar arrangement in place to protect their intellectual property in the case of imported goods," he commented.
Familiar food products regularly top the list of things expats miss about living in Britain. Cadbury's chocolate, pork pies, fish and chips, HP sauce, Branston Pickle, salad cream and, of course, Marmite, are among the most longed for brands according to a recent survey conducted by BritishExpats.com.
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