Legal breakthrough for Scotch Whisky in China
17 Sep 2015
Success against counterfeiter in the Chinese
A Chinese court ruling in favour of Scotch Whisky against a
packaging firm in the Anhui province of the country is being
heralded as a legal breakthrough and a warning to other potential
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has won a court battle
against Anhui Guangyu Packaging Technology Company Ltd in the
Anqing Intermediate People's Court in eastern China. The firm was
manufacturing bottle caps imprinted with the words 'Scotch Whisky'.
These caps were used on bottles of fake 'Scotch' appearing on sale
more than 1,000 miles away in Myanmar.
The SWA sued Guangyu and its director using intellectual
property rights around the words 'Scotch Whisky'. Guangyu defended
proceedings but the court has now upheld the SWA's complaint and
granted an injunction ordering Guangyu to stop infringement of the
'Scotch Whisky' trade mark and pay damages and costs.
The court victory represents a number of 'firsts' for the
industry, according to the SWA.
Although the SWA has obtained many favourable administrative
decisions against infringers, this was the first time it had
concluded proceedings in the Chinese civil courts. The penalties
are greater in court than with administrative procedures. And after
subjecting the SWA's evidence to careful scrutiny, the protected
legal status of Scotch Whisky was upheld, sending a clear message
to other would-be counterfeiters.
The international aspect of the case was also a precedent. It
involved the SWA disrupting a cross-border supply chain. Previously
the Association has only taken action against products manufactured
and sold in China.
Significantly, this was the first case where the SWA has
successfully taken action against a manufacturer of packaging.
Normally it sues after demonstrating that the liquid inside the
bottle is not Scotch. In this instance the SWA convinced the court
that the caps were to be used illegally although no complete
bottles were discovered. The SWA says this is helpful as more
manufacturers of fake spirits split the production process between
different locations to reduce the chance of being caught.
Lindesay Low, SWA senior legal counsel, said: "This victory in
the Chinese civil court is significant for a number of reasons and
should be seen as a legal breakthrough. We are confident this will
help deter other potential counterfeiters and fraudsters in
"Now that the appeal period has expired and the judgement has
become final, we are focussing on enforcing the award of damages.
There is also a possible criminal case against the director of
Anhui Packaging Technology Company and discussions are ongoing with
the public prosecutor."
With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch
Whisky Association head of communications, 0044 131 222 9230 or
0044 7432 605385, email firstname.lastname@example.org