The South African Rooibos (redbush) industry has settled its 10-year US trademark wrangle which should see this herbal tea more readily available in this key market according to the biggest producer, Rooibos Ltd.

According to Rooibos Ltd MD, Martin Burgh, the matter had been resolved and the name rooibos name returned to its generic acceptance as understood in South Africa.

This follows a scenario that developed when a South African businesswoman, Annique Theron, claimed she established and registered rooibos-based health products in the US in the early 1990s. She then sold the trademark to her agent, Virginia Burke-Watkins, from Dallas, in 2001. Burke-Watkins filed lawsuits against a number of companies using the name rooibos either as a tea or health product.

"This is all behind us now and we have seen a renewed interest in rooibos. We have had tremendous growth in various international markets over the past five years," Burgh said.

The tea is indigenous to a small area of the Cederberg Mountains 250km north of Cape Town.