SWA wins six-year battle with German Distillery

The Scotch Whisky Association has won a long-running battle to stop a German Distillery from using the name Glen Buchenbach for its single malt whisky.

The brand, which is produced by the Waldhorn Distillery in Berglen, near Stuttgart, does flag up its German origins on the label.

Despite this, the SWA claimed the product could confuse consumers – specifically because of the inclusion of the word “Glen” in the branding - and “mislead them as to the true origin of the whisky”. In a dispute that started in 2013, the SWA claimed the word “Glen” could make consumers believe the product was produced in Scotland.

The court has now ruled that the German Whisky has breached the geographical indication (GI) of Scotch Whisky by using the word “Glen”.

The dispute started when the SWA took legal action through Hamburg’s regional court, which then asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to interpret the GI to help assess the use of the word “Glen” in this case.

The ECJ started that for the GI to have been breached the word “Glen” must make consumers think of Scotch whisky, as well as conjuring up images of Scotland. The decision was made this week by the Hamburg court, which ruled that the word on a German whisky could confuse and mislead consumers.

Alan Park, SWA’s Director of Legal Affairs, said: “The SWA has consistently taken action in our global markets to prevent the use of Scottish indicators of origin on whisky to prevent the use of Scottish indications of origin on whisky, which is not Scotch Whisky. This is vital to protecting Scotland’s national drink and is a deterrent to those who seek to take advantage of the quality reputation of Scotch Whisky and potentially mislead consumers.

“Courts across many jurisdictions have ruled that names, such as “Highland” and “Glen” and images, such as bagpipers, are so strongly associated with Scotland and Scotch Whisky that their use on whisky of another origin is misleading.

“Our case against Glen Buchenback 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.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision that the use of Glen on a German whisky is misleading.”

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