It is necessary to distinguish between two types of functional foods: those which are the result of scientific research and those which naturally offer certain health benefits. Depending on the specific situation different types of IP can be used for their protection.

Hipócrates, known as the father of Medicine, declared that foods were the best remedy. But his declarations went even further, saying that we are what we eat.

The concept of "Functional Food" was first introduced in 1989 in Japan, when the Japanese recommended the use of foods which, in addition to their nutritional properties, brought health benefits.

In any recent technological area with growth focused on the level of development of new products and solutions to meet the markets growing needs, the role of Intellectual Property takes on particular importance and becomes a critical point in the businesss management; and the area of Functional Foods is not an exception.

Research in this area is considerably competitive and intense, thus leading to greater protection for the results of research and development through the use of patents. Between 25% and 30% of patents in the food sector are related to Functional Foods, which shows the importance of this option in this business and research area.

However, it is necessary to distinguish between two types of functional foods: those which are the result of scientific research and those which naturally offer certain health benefits. Depending on the specific situation different types of IP can be used for their protection.

The type of IP which is almost always used in the area of Functional Foods is the Invention Patent. However, there are other forms such as Plant Varieties, Author’s Rights, Trade Marks and Distinctive Signs and also Designation of Origin and Geographical Indication. Accordingly, the combination of IP types must be decided depending on the nature of the Functional Food to be developed.