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Protecting Scotch Whisky outside the UK

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As a registered "Geographical Indication" (GI) in many overseas markets including the EU, Scotch Whisky is protected from misuse, imitation, evocation and any other practice liable to mislead consumers.

Protecting Scotch Whisky in the EU

 Scotch Whisky is registered as a Geographical Indication (“GI”) in the EU.  GIs are a special form of intellectual property rights, applied to products that have unique characteristics and a reputation associated with their origin.  As a registered GI, Scotch Whisky is protected from misuse, imitation, evocation and any other practice liable to mislead consumers.

Under EU law, the status of Scotch Whisky as a registered GI depends on it having a Technical File and a Verification Scheme. 

  1. The Technical File for Scotch Whisky sets out the reputation, characteristics and general requirements for Scotch Whisky. It has direct force of law throughout the EU and incorporates the main provisions of the UK Law.
  2. The Verification Scheme has been operated by HMRC since 2014 and its purpose is to confirm, before it is placed on the market, that Scotch Whisky complies with the specifications set out in the Technical File.

Protecting Scotch Whisky Worldwide

Our worldwide protection of Scotch Whisky takes different forms.  It:

  • is registered as a GI in many countries around the world;
  • is registered as a Certification or Collective Trademark in several countries;
  • is specifically defined and protected in the domestic legislation of a number of countries including, for example, the US, where it is defined under Federal Law as “a distinctive product of Scotland manufactured in Scotland in compliance with the laws of the United Kingdom” and
  • benefits from general laws of passing off and unfair competition.

Irrespective of the method by which Scotch Whisky is protected, the SWA will ensure that products do not take advantage of the reputation of Scotland’s national drink.

This means the consumers can continue to enjoy Scotch Whisky knowing that it is a well-protected, high quality spirit.

news & commentary

20 January 2022

Decision over Glen Buchenbach upheld by appeal court

The SWA has won the legal case against the use of 'Glen' in Germany.

20 November 2020

Scotch Whisky is registered as a GI in Laos

Scotch Whisky has officially been registered as a Geographical Indication in Laos

05 August 2020

SWA releases new guidance on personal investment in Scotch Whisky casks

The SWA has published guidance for individuals looking to invest in Scotch Whisky casks.

31 May 2019

SWA legal team wins 'Team of the Year' award

The SWA has been recognised for its work to protect Scotch Whisky at an awards ceremony in Boston.

07 February 2019

SWA Comments on Glen Buchenbach case

Our case against Glen Buchenbach presented clear and compelling evidence to the court that 'Glen' is strongly associated with Scotland and Scotch Whisky, and the only reason to use 'Glen' for a German whisky is because of its undoubted association with Scotch Whisky.

06 August 2018

Scotch Whisky granted certification trademark in South Africa

'Scotch Whisky' registered as a certification trademark in South Africa

05 March 2018

Protecting Scotch in the age of Brexit

The UK is preparing for a time of great change as we approach Brexit. Leaving the European Union will undoubtedly have a major impact on British industries and exporters, including Scotch Whisky.

28 February 2018

SWA secures GI protection for Scotch Whisky in New Zealand

Scotland's national drink has secured enhanced legal protection in New Zealand after the Scotch Whisky Association's application to register "Scotch Whisky" as a Geographical Indication (GI) was successful.

01 February 2018

10 year renewal of Scotch Whisky trademark in China announced during Prime Minister trade visit

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has renewed its collective trademarks 'SCOTCH WHISKY' and its translation '苏格兰威士忌' in China until November 2028. As a result, Scotch Whisky is officially protected from locally produced copies for a further 10 years.


19 June 2020

Thinking of investing in Scotch Whisky?

The SWA has produced guidance for consumers of what to consider when investing in a cask of Scotch Whisky.

31 January 2019

Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009: Guidance for Producers and Bottlers

The following guidance is aimed at assisting those producing and selling Scotch Whisky, and those designing labels, packaging and advertising, to comply with the 2009 Scotch Whisky Regulations.