Scotch whisky trademark secured in China

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Scotch whisky is legally protected from copies in China for the next 10 years
Scotch whisky is legally protected from copies in China for the next 10 years

Related tags: Trademark, Scotch whisky association

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has secured a 10-year trademark for Scotch whisky in China, during a three-day trade visit to the country with Prime Minister Theresa May.

As a result, Scotch whisky and its Chinese translation (苏格兰威士忌) are officially protected from locally produced copies until November 2028.

The SWA has worked closely with the British Embassy and Chinese authorities to crack down on locally produced spirits falsely described as Scotch. 

Since securing trademark protection in 2008, the SWA has investigated and dealt with about 200 brands of fake Scotch. The organisation said it had also handled more than 100 trademarks featuring Scottish words and images that companies had applied for in bad faith for use on their Chinese-made products.

Securing future growth for scotch

SWA chief executive Karen Betts said the renewal of the trademark was an important step in securing future growth for Scotch in China, the world’s largest market for spirits.

“While challenges remain, Scotch whisky producers can be confident that the Chinese government officially recognises Scotch whisky as a Scottish product, produced according to traditional methods, that should be given special recognition in the Chinese market,” ​said Betts.

“The industry has enjoyed great support from the Chinese authorities, who take food fraud and IP ​[intellectual property] protection seriously, in tackling fake Scotch. We’re grateful too to the British Embassy, which has provided invaluable support.”

Betts identified China as a key market for Scotch whisky and legal protection was the firm foundation on which future trade would be built.

‘Promote our exports’

International trade secretary Dr Liam Fox added: “I am pleased to be in China with the Prime Minister and a diverse contingent of innovative British businesses to promote our exports and attract Chinese investment into the UK.

“China is a key market for British goods and services with exports increasing by 25% over the last year to more than £59bn and it is my ambition to ensure that the trade relationship between our two countries continues to grow.”

Meanwhile, in November, pork producers in Northern Ireland started exports to China,​ as part of a nationwide deal, first revealed in August, which was expected to generate £200M and support 1,500 jobs.

Related topics: Drinks, Legal

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6 comments

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Clear Provenance is crucial to Scotland's economy

Posted by Ruth Watson,

Good to see Scotch whisky getting a guarantee of provenance protection for ten more years. We can only hope Westminster supports Scotland's brand identity in the US and Peru: recent trade talks there saw both nations seeking to call their whiskey 'Scotch'.
Scotch whisky is a crucial part of Scotland's economy - and heritage. It is, therefore, hugely disappointing to see Marks and Spencer, Bell's, and others, calling Scotch whisky 'British'.
As we head towards the car crash of Brexit, with the resultant loss of PGI afforded by EU trade deals, it is more important than ever that we #keepScotlandtheBrand

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Protecting Trademarks

Posted by Morag Black,

Good to see the SWA Chief executive working to extend the Chinese Government's acceptance of Scotch Whisky as Scottish. Perhaps she would like to work just as hard in the home market - there seems to be a lot of "British" whisky with British flags around. In these times of economic uncertainty, it is extremely important that Scotland the Brand is protected wherever its items are sold

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Scottish Brands

Posted by Eileen MacPherson,

Good to see SWA has extended its trademark protection for ten years. The important word there is extended! Don’t know why it’s being claimed this is thanks to Theresa May visit to China. The Scotch Whisky Brand has been protected in China for years. Typical political point scoring except we know better. Our Scottish Brands at home require brand protection let’s see Theresa May step up to stop turning Scottish Brands to British. Whoever wrote this article should correct it.

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