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Cyprus wins back UK halloumi trademark

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Nicosia (AFP)

Cyprus has regained the trademark rights in Britain to its renowned white cheese halloumi after an official blunder saw it lose its brand protection in 2018, officials said Monday.

Commerce Minister George Lakkotrypis said Cyprus registered the "halloumi" trademark at the UK’s Intellectual Property Office on January 31, after losing it in May 2018 through a bureaucratic blunder.

"We believe this re-registration is a significant development, not only because it corrects a serious mistake made by the ministry, but because it will also ensure our exports to the UK will continue to rise, regardless of Brexit," Lakkotrypis told reporters.

The UK is the biggest market for the popular squeaky cheese, absorbing 40 percent of halloumi exports generating around $91 million a year.

Cyprus expects to yield $330 million in exports from halloumi by 2023.

The government has admitted it was culpable in losing the British legal battle over halloumi last time but said this success "corrected" past failures.

Cyprus lost the trademark in Britain due to the commerce ministry's failure to respond on time to applications filed by a British company, John & Pascalis Ltd, to invalidate or revoke the trademark.

A UK court ruled in favour of the company because the Cyprus government took more than a reasonable length of time to present its case.

According to the high court judgment: "The ministry's internal procedures were so disorganised that the letter enclosing the application was passed from official to official after receipt on 9 February, 2018, but no action was taken."

Cyprus has also submitted a file to register halloumi as a European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

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