Idaho potato industry wins Turkish patent case
By JOHN O'CONNELL
BOISE, Idaho -- The Idaho potato industry has prevailed in its efforts to stop a Turkish agricultural company from using the word "Idaho" to promote various agricultural commodities.
Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said he received a letter Feb. 25 from the Turkish Patent Institute announcing it had denied the trademark application by Beta Ziraat de Ticaret.
At the IPC's urging, the state Legislature passed a resolution in late January expressing its opposition to the company using the Idaho name. Muir explained the company hoped to attach the word "Idaho" to agricultural goods including forestry products, animal feed, meat and malting barley. Though the company didn't necessarily seek to promote potatoes, Muir is confident it intended to capitalize on the strong reputation developed by Idaho's spud industry.
Idaho currently ships no fresh potatoes to Turkey.
The Patent Institute's letter concluded with an acknowledgment that the application indicated "a geographical origin of the goods and would be deceptive for products not originating from Idaho."
"Obviously, the word 'Idaho' had a very positive connotation to them, and why does it? Because of the Idaho potato," Muir said. "As with any brand that becomes a very strong, recognized brand, there's always a risk that others are going to try to take advantage of it. We have been very aggressive in the last 75 years to protect our Idaho seal and the word 'Idaho.'"
Muir said he's pleased by the speed at which the Turkish government responded to the matter. He also believes the incident highlights that Idaho is developing a global reputation for quality.