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| 1 minute read

From Carolina Reaper to Pepper X: grower takes the heat out of IP

I enjoy spicy food but I draw the line at foods which would cause actual physical discomfort. If you're a glutton (sorry) for punishment, there's a new kid on the block: Pepper X, officially the hottest (red hot?) chilli pepper in the world.

What has that got to do with IP? There are proprietary rights in the pepper and in its name. The grower of Pepper X is not releasing his product or its seeds, because of his past experience with an earlier product, the much-copied Carolina Reaper - which was the hottest pepper until X came along. By making Pepper X available only in prepared sauces the owner will retain some control over the product and his monopoly rights.

Pepper X has made the headlines today because Guinness World Records have officially confirmed its “hottest” status, but in fact PEPPER X was registered as a trade mark in the UK and US back in 2021. An application for CALIFORNIA REAPER was filed in the US in 2019, but has encountered multiple objections on the grounds that it lacks distinctiveness, and four years later it is still not registered. This has happened because the plant itself had been around for some years when the trade mark application was filed, and access to it had not been tightly controlled. The name CALIFORNIA REAPER no longer signified peppers originating from a single business, and hence the difficulty in granting any one supplier a legal monopoly in it. 

The grower has clearly learned from that difficult and expensive experience. Trade marks are like insurance. The PEPPER X registrations are a great example of getting your branding sorted first and putting a monopoly in place before the imitators come along. 

I was laid out flat on a marble wall for approximately an hour in the rain, groaning in pain


brands & trade marks, food & drink, yes