New Englanders both enjoy and take great pride in their maple syrup. In response to the appearance of “fake” syrup claiming to originate in Vermont, local senators have sponsored the proposed Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement, or MAPLE, Act.
According to the Los Angeles Times “Under existing law, fraudulently representing something as maple syrup is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year behind bars.” The MAPLE Act seeks to impose stiffer penalties on unscrupulous entrepreneurs.
While the term “Vermont Maple Syrup” could probably qualify for a certification mark, this legislation is intended to bolster food labeling requirements administered by the Food and Drug Administration, and to better ensure that only “maple syrup” can be labeled as such.
Downstream, however, producers may want to seek IP protection on a state-by state basis (e.g., “New York Pure Maple Syrup”) because modern extractive technologies are now being used to produce maple syrup without the lengthy and traditional distillation process. These “fast track” products use the real raw ingredient (sap from the maple tree); but they do not have the unique and distinctive maple taste of the real thing. Because they are less expensive, they could pose a greater long-term threat to legitimate producers than the fake product that sparked this proposed legislation.
Post written by Peter Bloch