Wisconsin growers seek ginseng trademark protection

Oct 27, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
Dairy State growers are lobbying for the USDA to help protect their "Made in Wisconsin" ginseng trademark.

To protect the trademark on their locally grown ginseng, Wisconsin farmers are lobbying the U.S. Department of Agriculture to change quality standard regulations for the root.

Wisconsin growers produce about 95 percent of the domestic ginseng crop, according to a recent GlobalPost article. The majority of Dairy State ginseng is exported to Asian markets, and American growers have become concerned about counterfeit products being sold overseas with the trademarked "Made in Wisconsin" label.

Trademark infringement lawsuits filed since 2000 have targeted about 40 retailers and pharmaceutical companies that sell ginseng, the GlobalPost reported. To further protect their brand, Wisconsin ginseng farmers want the USDA to update 2004 quality standards.

Currently, the USDA designates ginseng as Standard, Medium, Select or Premium grade. Butch Weege, director of international marketing for the Wisconsin Ginseng Board, told the news source this system "levels the playing field" by making counterfeiting more difficult. To enhance the benefits of this quality control, the growers want the USDA to add three more grades. A USDA spokesperson told the GlobalPost the request will likely be approved.

American companies in other industries have also complained about trademark infringement being perpetrated in Asian markets. Earlier this year, tech giant Apple sued a Chinese company that created near-perfect replicas of Apple retail stores in China.