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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

21 August 2023

Scotch Whisky Secures Trademark Protection in Hong Kong

Scotch Whisky now has trademark protection in Hong Kong for the first time.

22 May 2023

SWA Legal Team Toasts WTR Awards Success as Best Not-for-Profit Organisation

The Scotch Whisky Association's Legal Affairs team has won its third World Trademark Review award in five years.

25 April 2022

Joint statement with Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd

A joint statement with Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd

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.

12 December 2019

Scotch Whisky secures GI protection in Cambodia

Cambodia is the latest country in which Scotch Whisky's geographical indication is officially registered.

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.


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.