Scotch Whisky one of the first to apply for ‘geographical indication’ in New Zealand
29 Aug 2017
New regime in New Zealand will boost legal protection of
Scotch Whisky is one of the first applications to be listed on New
Zealand's register of geographical indications (GIs) - a sign used
on wines and spirits from a specific area which have a quality,
reputation or other characteristic linked to that location.
Scotland's national drink was one of the first GI applications to
appear on the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office site when
the regime went live in July. Once accepted, 'Scotch Whisky' will
have protection as a registered GI in New Zealand from the genesis
of the country's registration regime. New Zealand's GI scheme is
designed to give greater legal protection to domestic and
international wines and spirits and protect consumers against
GI recognition means the description 'Scotch Whisky' can only be
used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with UK law.
Requirements include that Scotch is only made from the raw
materials of water, cereals and yeast and matured in Scotland for
at least three years in oak casks.
Currently in New Zealand, if someone is selling fake 'Scotch'
there is the option of taking legal proceedings for breach of the
Fair Trading Act which comes with some uncertainties.
GI status is of great commercial value to the Scotch Whisky
industry and gives consumers confidence in the quality and
provenance of what they are buying. Scotch is officially recognised
in the laws of nearly 100 countries.
Looking ahead, the SWA would welcome an early UK-New Zealand free
trade agreement following Brexit. While Scotch Whisky already
enjoys a zero import tariff in New Zealand, an FTA could deliver
other benefits. Such benefits are: guaranteed and improved
protection of GIs; strengthened whisky definition; removal of
import duty equivalent charges; industry access to New Zealand's
health promotion levy to help fund responsible drinking campaigns
and end of the prohibition of the sale of spirits in the country's
Lindesay Low, Scotch Whisky Association senior legal counsel,
said: "As Scotch Whisky continues to grow in popularity, attempts
are often made to try to take unfair advantage of its success, for
example by trying to make and sell fakes. Recognition as a GI helps
protect against such illegal activities. It's important that
consumers have confidence in the provenance of what they are
buying, which this recognition of Scotch as a 'geographical
indication' will help to achieve.
"We were quick off the mark to file our application to register
Scotch Whisky as a GI in New Zealand as it offers such great
protection to our product. We await the decision of the New Zealand
authorities on our early application.
"We hope a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK
will be signed following Brexit to further improve the status of
Scotch Whisky in the market."
British High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair said: "My team have
built a strong relationship with the SWA and had worked closely
with them to push the case for changes to New Zealand legislation".
He added: "The export of Scotch Whisky to New Zealand is important
and we will continue to work with the industry to ensure that it
continues to thrive and prosper in New Zealand."
Leading New Zealand intellectual property firm AJ Park assisted
the Association in filing the application. Laura Carter, senior
associate at AJ Park, said: "A new registration regime is always an
exciting but somewhat uncertain time. It's great having the kind of
collaborative relationship that we have with the Scotch Whisky
Association so we are able to navigate this new environment
together, and bolster the protection available for the fantastic
product produced by the Association's members".
Exports of Scotch Whisky to New Zealand were up almost 18% last
year to just under £6.3 million.
Geographical Indications (GI)
Only products that have a specific geographical origin and possess
a quality and a reputation or other characteristic associated with
that origin qualify for GI status. That means Scotch Whisky is
recognised as a product that must be made in Scotland.
GIs were first formally recognised in the World Trade Organisation
Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
in 1994. All WTO members must protect a GI from misuse. The Scotch
Whisky Association is also registering Scotch Whisky as a GI in as
many countries as possible.
With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch
Whisky Association head of communications, 0044 131 222 9230 or
0044 7432 605385, email email@example.com