Our services are centred around intellectual property that can be registered. We protect innovation, design, and branding across all sectors of industry, and at all stages in the supply chain.

For each IP right we offer services covering strategic advice, pre-registration searches, registrations and renewals, oppositions and dispute resolution. We handle work throughout the world, working with local colleagues in over 100 countries.


Our attorneys specialise in one or more sectors of industry, which enables them to provide quality advice with a commercial focus.

Our patent specialists have detailed understanding of the background technology, which ensures that your patent applications are prepared with the correct scope, reducing the likelihood of challenges from third parties and objections from the patent office.

They also advise whether other forms of protection would be more appropriate. Our brand specialists work with brand managers for leading brands and their advice is commercially focussed making sure that you get the best value from your budget.

Sustainability and IP: The Growth of Meat Alternatives


As the UK hosts the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, action on climate change is firmly in the spotlight on the world stage.

In the run-up to COP26, a number of recommendations for priority actions to tackle climate change have been published in the COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, one of which is to promote healthy, sustainable, and resilient food systems.

In particular, the COP26 Special Report predicts that the implementation of just three changes – reducing food waste and loss, improving livestock management, and the adoption of healthy, largely plant-based diets – could reduce the emission of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, by 65–80 Mt/year over the next few decades (current global anthropogenic methane emissions are approximately 370 Mt/year). This agrees with a special report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2019, which concluded that reducing meat consumption is a key requirement if efforts to cut carbon emissions are to meet the targets in the Paris Agreement.

Plant-based Diets

Whether motivated by an increased helping of climate guilt, or CO2 shortages leading to emptier-than-usual meat sections in UK supermarkets, some shoppers may soon find themselves tempted into that hitherto shunned area of the refrigerated aisle: the vegetarian section.

Thankfully for those unwilling to go full rabbit-food, they are likely to find that vegetarian sections are now stocked with an array of ever-more-convincing meat substitutes. In this context “meat substitutes” means plant-based meats – foods that mimic the taste, texture and nutritional qualities of meat, despite being meat-free. This means that consumers can still have the experience of eating traditionally “meat-based” menu options like burgers, sausages, “chicken” and minced/ground-meat, while remaining faithfully vegetarian or vegan.  

This improvement in the quality of meat substitutes, together with rising concerns over environmental sustainability and animal welfare, mean that the uptake of meat substitute products is growing fast. The global meat alternatives market is still relatively young, but is projected to grow from $4.5 billion in 2021 to $8.8 billion in 2028.

Plant-based Meat

Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods (many other brands are also available) are now producing plant-based burgers and sausages that taste convincingly “meaty”. I’ve tried them, and in my opinion as a non-vegetarian, they are shockingly good.

It has taken years of development to get here, and different companies have attempted different ways of recreating the sensation of “meatiness” using only plant-derived products. Impossible Foods’ soya-based burger, for example, contains haem, an iron-rich molecule that exists in living things to help proteins carry oxygen. Beyond Meat’s burger, on the other hand, is made from proteins derived from peas, mung beans and rice, and the reddish colour is achieved with beetroot. The Beyond burger also contains coconut oil and cocoa butter that replace the fat in a real beef burger.

Even the world’s biggest fast-food chains are now tapping into the potential of the meat substitute market: McDonald’s – arguably the world’s most well-known hamburger outlet – released their first plant-based burger in the UK on 13th October: the imaginatively-named McPlant. The McPlant has been accredited as vegan by the Vegetarian Society, and includes vegan sauce, vegan cheese and a plant-based burger co-developed with Beyond Meat.

Unsurprisingly, when these market-leading products have taken years to develop, the manufacturers of meat substitutes are turning to the patent system in an effort to protect their innovations and market position.

A search for published patent rights in the names of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, for example, reveals that both companies have filed multiple patent applications relating to their imitation meat and its manufacture. A basic search for published patent rights naming “Impossible Foods, Inc” as the patent applicant returns 20 published patent families with titles such as “Ground Meat Replicas”,  “Methods and Compositions for Affecting the Flavor and Aroma Profile of Consumables”, and “Materials and Methods for Protein Production”. A similar search for patent rights relating to Beyond Meat brings up 9 patent families with titles such as “Meat-Like Food Products”.

Lab-Grown Meat

While the plant-based “imitation-meat” approaches of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are now well-established and available on our supermarket shelves, alternative technologies such as lab-grown meat are edging closer and closer to mainstream reality.

Growing meat using cellular agriculture involves the use of animal cells or microbes to grow animal products, such as meat or milk, in bioreactors. Having been the stuff of science-fiction for many years, this field gained prominence as a realistic prospect after Dutch scientist Mark Post unveiled the first cultured meat burger in 2013. 

GOOD Meat – the cultivated meat brand from sustainable food company Eat Just – is currently the largest cultured meat company on the market, having secured a total of $267 million in funding to bring cell-cultured meat into the mainstream. GOOD Meat’s cell-based chicken product has already debuted in Singapore, which is still the only country to have granted regulatory approval for the mass sale of cultivated meat. As other countries worldwide approve lab-grown meat for consumption, and GOOD Meat and its competitors scale up their production capacity, it is expected that cultured meat will become another major part of the alternative protein market worldwide.

A basic search for published patent rights naming “Eat Just, Inc” as the patent applicant returns 10 patent families with titles such as “Method for Producing Tissue Engineered Meat for Consumption”, “In Vitro Avian Food Product and “Industrial production of meat using cell culture methods”. A similar search for patent rights in the name of Upside Foods, which is another major player previously known as Memphis Meats, brings up 10 published patent families with titles such as “Apparatuses and Systems for preparing a Comestible Meat Product”.

Patent applications are only published 18 months after filing, so searching public databases currently does not reveal patent applications filed after April 2020. This means that the latest developments in lab-grown and plant-based-meat may well be covered by patent applications not yet visible on public registers.

As meat substitutes continue to move into the mainstream and investment in these products increases, further technical advances are sure to make plant-based and lab-grown meat more and more realistic. By protecting the innovations involved in manufacturing these meat-substitutes together with their compositions, the patent owners and their investors will be well placed to make themselves market leaders in plant-based meat substitutes in the years to come.

This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.

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