So far, in the last 10 years, Scotch whisky did a great job with their 115 distilleries all over the country, working round-the-clock to produce world-class whiskies to cater 200 markets all over the world. About forty bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped abroad every second, this contributes to about £5bn of the balance of payments in the UK. However, the success of their whiskies came at a price.
The Scotch Whisky Association is now working 24/7 to block attempts of some companies worldwide in passing off their products to boost the country’s profits. In one of the recent news, the industry body revealed that the proceedings were authorized against 19 various brands in the previous year: it covered Belgium, Curacao, China, Ecuador, Germany, France, New Zealand, India, Scotland and the Netherlands. Scotch whisky has been protected as a GI (Geographical Indication); this means that the product can be produced only in Scotland, according to the rules of the UK. However, this did not stop imitators; they came up with different ingenious ways just to avoid the laws and will be protected.
The facts and figures of Scotch whisky in 2014 are the following:
- Exports generated was about £3.95billion, it is equivalent to £125 per second.
- Each second, 38 bottles were shipped abroad.
- Over 10,000 people are employed directly in the industry.
- About 115 distilleries were licensed for the production of Scotch.
- Scotch whisky accounted for about 25% of all the UK exports in terms of food and drinks.
Magnus Cormack, director of legal affairs in SWA said that the organization has around 60-70 active legal cases in thirty different countries, at the same time, the trademark oppositions reached 300 and it is increasing coming from 20 countries. He said, the issues involved are simple fraud like passing drinks labelled as Scotch whisky even if they are not and subtle attempts of dressing up products so that they look like Scotch. Last year, the association acted against Highlander, a brand from Bulgaria.
With this growing concern, Cormack said: “With the litigation internationally we have to draw on the expertise of lawyers in other countries to actually do the groundwork”.