The S&F law blog


Chivas Regal tastes success in China securing special trademark status

The Chivas and Chivas Regal names have been recognized as well known trademarks

The Chivas and Chivas Regal names have been recognized as well known trademarks

A Scotch whisky distiller yesterday claimed a victory in the battle to protect its flagship brand in China.

The names Chivas and Chivas Regal – in English and Chinese characters – have been recognised by the Chinese Trade Marks Office (CTMO) as “well-known” trademarks.

Being granted that status elevates Chivas protection above that of ordinary registered trademarks, the firm said.

The ruling means that third parties will no longer be able to use the names or similar words to market other goods which “may cause confusion in China”.

Recognition for the brand comes after the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) convinced the CTMO last August to recognize the phrase “Scotch whisky” as a “collective trademark”.

At the time, patent attorneys warned companies to register their own trademarks as well in order to protect their brands.

Figures from the SWA show that direct whisky exports to China grew by 5 per cent last year to £44 million.

Scotch now accounts for a fifth of all Scottish manufactured exports to the country.

Christian Porta, chairman and chief executive of Chivas Brothers, said: “This formal recognition of Chivas as a well-known trademark will strengthen protection of the Chivas brand in China.

“It prevents third parties from taking advantage of the reputation and goodwill that has been generated by the Chivas brand.”

He added: “This is an important result for Chivas Brothers as China is the largest market for Chivas Regal Scotch whisky and a significant investment is made to promote the brand throughout China every year.”

Chivas Regal is one of owner Pernod Ricard’s 15 “strategic brands”, which means it receives wide global distribution. The drinks giant’s other whisky brands include Ballantine’s, the Glenlivet, Aberlour and Scapa.

Porta added: “We are also extremely grateful to both the UK Embassy in Beijing and the SWA, which actively supported our efforts to achieve this well-known trademark recognition.”

Last year, the value of Scotch whisky exports topped £3 billion for the first time, with the equivalent of more than a billion bottles shipped abroad. A spokesman for the SWA said: “China is an important emerging market for Scotch and we’re working closely with distillers to ensure that there is a strong legal framework in place to protect their intellectual property rights.”

In its recent brands report, patent attorney firm Marks & Clerk highlighted steps China was taking to combat its reputation for counterfeiting.

Last year, a Chinese court awarded $182,000 to Diageo after a Shanghai firm was found to be copying the design of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky.

Source: Shanghai Daily

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