Scotch Whisky Association: Stop Selling Fake ‘Scotch’

As part of its work in protecting the integrity of authentic Scotch whisky, the association recently achieved a victory by getting Chinese authorities to reject trademark applications for “Scotch-sounding” drink names.

No matter how you like your Scotch, in order for it to be 100 percent authentic, it must have been aged in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years. That’s according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which has been fighting a number of trademark objections around the world to stop distillers from selling imitation brands of the drink and falsely labeling products.

We aim to ensure that when consumers buy Scotch whisky all over the world, they receive the genuine product.

Last week, the association was successful in getting Chinese authorities to reject several Scotch-sounding whisky trademark applications, according to the Herald Scotland. Proposed product names included Glen Dare, Castle Glen, and Glend.

“Not surprisingly, those seeking to take advantage of the reputation of Scotch Whisky frequently use the word ‘glen’ on their products to reinforce the illusion that they are Scotch whiskies, and with the growing popularity of Scotch whisky, we were faced with a raft of such applications in China,” SWA legal advisor Lindesay Low told international spirits magazine The Spirits Business.

SWA has tackled imitation distillers and false product labeling in numerous countries including Mexico, Austria, Belgium, and India, according to its 2013 Legal Report.

Last month, SWA achieved another victory in Australia where Scotch whisky received a certification trademark. Australia is one of the worst markets for fake Scotch, according to SWA, which reported 40 brands of fake Scotch being sold there since 2005. With the new designation, the association can now more easily enforce the United Kingdom’s legal requirements for the drink in that country.

Ninety-six million cases of Scotch whisky were exported throughout the world in 2013—that’s 40 bottles every second, according to SWA. Last year, exports of the drink generated £4.3 billion for the United Kingdom.

“It’s in the interests of Scotch whisky producers to stop companies overseas taking unfair advantage of the reputation of Scotch whisky,” SWA’s Legal Affairs Director, Magnus Cormack, told the Herald Scotland. “Not only does each fake deprive a Scotch whisky producer of a sale, but, as fakes are usually of poor quality, it will damage the reputation of Scotch whisky with consumers. We aim to ensure that when consumers buy Scotch whisky all over the world, they receive the genuine product.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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