'Scotch Whisky' Gets Official Trademark in the U.S.

The name is already protected, but the Scotch Whisky Association says a trademark makes it easier to take actions against counterfeiters.

Scotch whisky
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Protected geographical indications are important for both consumers and producers — for instance, allowing drinkers to know their Napa wine actually comes from Napa and protecting winemakers from counterfeiters who want to slap the Napa name on a bottle. But protecting products in foreign countries outside of their home jurisdictions can be trickier. And so, though the United States already has agreed to protect "Scotch" as a whiskey produced in Scotland, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has taken things one step further and officially received a trademark for Scotch Whisky, too.

"The registration of the 'Scotch Whisky' certification trademark in the United States is a milestone for Scotland's national drink in our largest global market," stated Mark Kent, chief executive of the SWA.

Scotch sales in the United States were around $1 billion in 2021, a huge chunk of the total $5.5 billion worth of annual Scotch Whiskey exports around the globe from the United Kingdom. And yet, the SWA pointed out that getting a trademark in the U.S. has actually taken longer than elsewhere: Over 100 other countries already have intellectual property protections for the product.

But why seek a trademark when Scotch is already protected under the U.S. Federal Code? The SWA stated that having a trademark makes it easier to battle against counterfeiters. "This registration offers Scotch Whisky a greater degree of legal protection and will allow us to take action against those who seek to cash-in on the heritage, craft and quality of genuine Scotch," Kent continued.

"Scotch Whisky — the UK's largest food and drink export — is a firm favorite in the US, which was the industry's first billion pound market in 2019 before the impact of tariffs and the Covid-19 pandemic," he added. "The trademark registration is another sign of the industry's determination to build back in the United States and ensure that consumers in a dynamic and competitive spirits market can be confident that the Scotch Whisky they purchase is the genuine article."

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