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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
No Scotch tag for Indian whisky
By Soutik Biswas
BBC News, Delhi

Pravin Anand with a bottle of Red Scot whisky
Seeing Red: Pravin Anand says the whisky is not Scotch
Never use the word Scot when you are naming a whisky made in India. And be careful about hawking it as Scotch.

This is the message a court in India has sent out to Indian whisky manufacturers.

The High Court in Delhi has fined an Indian liquor company more than $18,000 for marketing a whisky called Red Scot and asked it to drop using the native reference in the name.

This is the first ruling in India on the World Trade Organisation's Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (Trips), which identifies and protects products originating from a particular territory.

'Misleading'

The UK's 57-member Scotch Whisky Association went to court two years ago to prevent a Rajasthan-based liquor company from selling its whisky under the Red Scot brand.

They can say that it is an Indian whisky blended with Scotch provided they are putting a significant amount of Scotch whisky in the mix
Pravin Anand, lawyer

"By using this name, the company was misleading the public into believing that its whisky was a Scotch whisky, which it was not," Pravin Anand, lawyer for the association told the BBC.

The court has also warned whisky-makers in India to be careful while promoting their spirits as Scotch.

"Each of the words Scot, Scott, Scotch, Scots, Scottish or any variation when used in relation to whisky is a geographical indicator, signifying the origin of the whisky as being from Scotland. This is widely recognised in law throughout the world," Mr Anand said.

The association has hailed the court's decision and said it would protect Scotch whisky from "unfair competition in India".

Favoured spirit

This is not the first time the association has approached Indian courts to stop local whisky-makers from using Scot or Scotch.

Scotch whisky
There is a big demand for Scotch whiskies in India

There have been at least six cases since 1986 when the courts have restrained local distilleries from selling whiskies with names like Royal Scot, Grand Scot and Henry Scot.

Many years ago, a court in India ruled against a leading Indian whisky-maker for marketing a spirit that copied the design and livery of the Glenfiddich bottle.

But this is the first time that a court has fined a company and invoked the WTO laws, to which India is a signatory.

Whisky is the favoured spirit of Indians - in 2004, they drank 590 million litres, some 40% more than the US, which has the second largest clientele of whisky drinkers.

Mr Anand says the court is not imposing a blanket ban on the use of the word Scotch by an Indian whisky-maker.

"They can say that it is an Indian whisky blended with Scotch provided they are putting a significant amount of Scotch whisky in the mix," he says.

The Scotch would have to have been produced in a distillery and matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of capacity not exceeding 700 litres and for not less than three years, among other things.

Mr Anand says the latest judgement will also have a bearing on indiscriminate marketing of products like Darjeeling or Assam tea which are being made outside these territories.

Weavers in southern Andhra Pradesh state who make India's famous Pochampalli sari - named after a local village - took sari makers in the western city of Mumbai to court and successfully stopped them from marketing their saris under the same name.


SEE ALSO:
Indian wines hope to win over UK
31 May 05 |  Business
Indians embrace wine-drinking
04 Feb 04 |  Business
Indian wine takes on the world
22 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Prohibition ends in Haryana, India
01 Apr 98 |  Despatches


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