Scotch Whisky & Darjeeling as GIs
30 Apr 2013
What do Darjeeling tea and Scotch Whisky
have in common?
I was recently in Bangkok to speak about the protection of
Scotch Whisky at the Worldwide Symposium on Geographical
Indications (GIs), organised by the World Intellectual Property
Organisation and the Thai Department of Intellectual Property.
The high number of attendees, made up of government officials,
representatives of producers and legal advisers from across the
world, reminded me how important GIs have become in world trade. A
GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical
origin and possess qualities and a reputation associated with that
origin. That means Scotch Whisky is recognised as a product that
must be made in Scotland.
Protection of GIs is not just about intellectual property; it is
also about protecting cultural heritage and employment,
particularly in rural areas. Think about the significance of the
Darjeeling tea gardens in West Bengal or the Scotch Whisky
distilleries on Islay. As a result, GIs are becoming increasingly
important in developing countries. But it is 'mature' GIs, such as
Scotch Whisky, which are leading the way in ensuring that the legal
protection afforded to GIs is enforced in practice around the
At the Symposium, delegates heard what countries as far apart as
Ethiopia and Panama are doing to encourage protection for
traditional products made in their countries. Of course, the
greater the reputation of the product, the greater is the threat it
faces. As Scotch Whisky has been sold globally for more than 100
years, its reputation is such that it is synonymous with Scotland.
Fake Scotch Whisky is an attack on the brand of a nation. That is
why the Scotch Whisky Association, with the support of the
producers who fund us, will vigorously protect Scotland's national
Alan Park is a legal adviser with the Scotch Whisky