Scotch gets trademark protection in China

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th August 2008

A major step forward in efforts to protect Scotch Whisky in one of its most exciting, emerging markets has been welcomed by The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Following an SWA application, the Chinese Trade Mark Office under Administration of Industry & Commerce (AIC) has agreed to protect ‘Scotch Whisky’ as a Geographical Indication (GI) by registering it as a ‘collective trade mark’ in China. As a result, there will be nationwide official protection of the description ‘Scotch Whisky’ and its Chinese translation.

It is the highest level protection granted by the Chinese government to a foreign spirit drink as a Geographical Indication (GI) in China.

Lindesay Low, an SWA legal advisor specialising in the Chinese market, considers the decision vital to the future of the industry as too often fake product was being sold. “Over a number of years, we have welcomed the commitment and co-operation of the Chinese authorities in tackling imitation products ‘passed off’ as Scotch Whisky in China,” Low said. “This positive decision to grant stronger ‘collective trademark’ protection to Scotch is an important advance and will help to ensure Chinese consumers and Scottish distillers are protected from fake products.”

Counterfeit Scotch has long been an issue for the industry and, while this won’t stop fake product being sold, it does enable the industry to take more effective legal action if product sold as “Scotch Whisky’ is not actually made in Scotland.