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Scotch whisky gains trademark protection in US

Scotch whisky has secured a certification trademark in the US – the category’s largest global market.

Scotch whisky
Scotch has gained greater protection in the US after the SWA secured trademark registration

The US is among more than 100 countries where ‘Scotch whisky’ has been granted specific legal protection, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

SWA chief executive Mark Kent called the move a “milestone for Scotland’s national drink in our largest global market”.

He said: “This registration offers Scotch whisky a greater degree of legal protection and will allow us to take action against those who seek to cash-in on the heritage, craft and quality of genuine Scotch.”

The SWA said the category’s exports gave the UK £143 (US$175) every second in 2021, totalling more than £4.5 billion (US$5.5bn).

In the States, exports grew by 8% to £790 million (US$966.7m) last year, equal to four bottles of whisky exported to the US every second.

The first quarter of 2021 was affected by the 25% tariff on single malt Scotch, the SWA said. The US tariff on single malts was suspended for five years in June 2021.

Kent added: “Scotch whisky – the UK’s largest food and drink export – is a firm favourite in the US, which was the industry’s first billion-pound market in 2019 before the impact of tariffs and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The trademark registration is another sign of the industry’s determination to build back in the United States and ensure that consumers in a dynamic and competitive spirits market can be confident that the Scotch whisky they purchase is the genuine article.”

The category’s trademark is protected in countries such as South Korea, South Africa and China.

The UK and India’s forthcoming free trade agreement is the “biggest thing to unlock potential in Scotch” according to the SWA’s deputy director of trade.

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