Bogus Bream

22nd December 2017

A company has successfully applied to trademark the name ‘Kariba Bream’ for an imported species with IP Australia.

IP Australia is the Australian Government agency that grants intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks and designs.  IP Australia’ vision is to have a world leading IP system that “builds prosperity for Australia”.

Fish Names Australia operate the Fish Naming Standard.  Bream is a diverse group of fishes so this list contains 51 different species that can use the name bream.  Kariba Bream is not even on the list yet alone one of the species allowed to be called bream.  Kariba Bream is unrelated to other breams.

The importer Fisher Direct states on its website that they chose the name Kariba Bream because in Africa it is called this.  However, an ABC investigation has determined that the fish is from Indonesia.

Image: Tilapia farming in Indonesia

Fish Names Australia have contacted IP Australia.  IP Australia have explained that they do not generate a list of pending applications so stakeholders like the fishing industry would need to regularly work through the trademarks database using relevant keywords.  IP Australia will not agree to contact Fish Names Australia in the future about fish applications.  Fish names Australia regularly communicate their pending applications outward in an effort to get the most sensible outcomes.

Kariba Bream is actually tilapia.  There is no attempt to hide this on Fisher Direct’s website.

The NSW Department of Primary Industry website explains that tilapia are listed in the top 100 of the world’s worst introduced species and are a class 1 noxious fish in all waters of NSW. Possession and sale of live tilapia is prohibited with penalties of up to $55,000 for sale. Tilapia pose a significant threat to native fish species and aquatic habitats of NSW.

Unlike real bream, tilapia contains very little omega-3 oil.  Omega-3 is found in wild caught marine fish and has numerous health benefits.

The Seafood Industry’s peak body, Seafood Industry Australia, has taken on this fight.  SIA’s CEO Jane Lovell says that the decision is, “beyond belief”.  Ms. Lovell has raised the issue with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science without response.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACC) can take action against companies if they engage in the misleading use of trademarks, even after their approval.  SETFIA hopes that the ACC are investigating.