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Scotch whisky secures geographic indication recognition in South Africa

Written by Alex Baker on 09 August 2018

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‘Scotch Whisky’, that being whisky that has been produced in Scotland, has been successfully registered with ‘geographic indication’ recognition in South Africa, as demand for the drink in the country increased by 20.7% in 2017.

Karen Betts, speaking for the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), stated that the registration “offers Scotch Whisky a greater degree of legal protection and will allow us to prosecute rogue traders who seek to cash-in on… genuine Scotch.”

The registration comes in the midst of the weakening Pound Sterling, purportedly as a result of the Brexit situation, which is argued to be boosting British exports – indeed, global exports of Scotch grew by 8.9% in 2017, even after a dip only two years previously.

As a result, it is likely now more pressing to ensure that the growing volume of goods or services being exported abroad secure more extensive intellectual property protection to prevent knock-off products deceiving potentially increasing consumers and profiting from the Scotch whisky reputation. Indeed, it appears the SWA has realised this, as the South African registration follows additional trade mark successes in other overseas markets for the whisky, including in New Zealand, Australia, and Taiwan.

Within the EU, Scotch whisky has geographical indication protection, and now it is intended that protection akin to this is extended to individual countries beyond the EU as the SWA states that it is “registering Scotch Whisky as a [geographic indication] in as many countries as possible.”

Geographic indication recognition means the name ‘Scotch Whisky’ can only be used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with strict production and labelling requirements. Such protection requires specific geographic origin, in addition to possessing a quality and reputation associated with that origin. It fundamentally assures consumers that the product they are buying is genuine and of the quality expected from that origin.

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