Whisky Advocate

SWA: Court refuses Glen Breton trademark

April 7th, 2008

I just received this press release from the Scotch Whisky Association and wanted to pass it on to everyone. This battle has been going on for quite some time.

Monday 7 April 2008

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed a Canadian Federal Court decision to refuse to register the ‘Glen Breton’ trademark, for a single malt whisky produced in Canada.

The SWA had objected to the trademark arguing that use of the word ‘Glen’, which is widely used on Scotch Whisky, for whisky produced in Canada, was confusing and misleading to consumers.

Evidence filed by the SWA included over thirty instances of ‘Glen Breton’ being mis-described in Canada as ‘Scotch Whisky’, with examples of confusion found in retail outlets, newspaper articles, pricelists, menus and websites.

The Canadian Federal Court found that “the trade is confused” by the trademark, that ‘Glen Breton’ was often listed in price lists and menus as “single malt scotch” and that “the ultimate consumer who thought he or she was ordering a new Scottish single malt would never know that something else was served”.

5 Responses to “SWA: Court refuses Glen Breton trademark”

  1. Charles says:

    I think the SWA is acting like a group of bullies on this one.

  2. This is a very surprising verdict. The bottle has a bloody maple leaf on it, and says in no uncertain terms: Canadian Single Malt Whisky. I’m not a fan of the stuff, but think this ruling is misguided. It is ironic that the SWA made a case for “consumer confusion” when they are advocating doing just that is the case of “blended malt whisky”!
    Is this further proof that justice goes to those with the deepest pockets?

  3. John Hansell says:

    I was surprised too! You make some good points.

  4. Rob Carpenter says:

    It does seem a bit like Goliath going after David (with different result this time), but from the SWA’s perspective, I guess they are earning their fee, and this will serve as a warning to anyone else out there who might consider naming their product in a manner that could even remotely be confused with a place in Scotland, which was probably the SWA’s strategy all along. Assuming this battle is lost, next time I expect that SWA will go after anyone outside of Scotland who calls their product “single malt whisky,” claiming that’s confusing as well (even though it’s simply a description of a process), regardless of the brand name being used – mark my words.

    Still, there is at least one more level of appeal for Glen Breton (assuming that the article is correct in that this was before the Federal Court rather than the Federal Court of Appeal), and in the meantime, they’ll likely get a lot of publicity, and perhaps some sympathy trade.

  5. John Hansell says:

    We’ll see how it all plays out, both for Glenora and other distilleries.

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