After many years work, primarily by the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch Whisky, as a geographical identification, has finally been granted legal protection in China. The Chinese authorities have allowed a collective trade mark to be registered for the term "Scottish Whisky" together with its Chinese equivalent. This is an important achievement in a market which purchased the equivalent of 17 million bottles of the amber nectar in 2007.
The move will allow Scottish producers to pursue those who produce imitation goods in the Chinese courts. However, individual producers will still require to register their individual brands in order to afford full protection. Chinese authorities pursued around 50 cases of counterfeiting in 2006.
From a practical point of view this will incur costs to producers as standard products, at present, are unlikely to incorporate the exact term "Scottish Whisky" in current packaging. However, many will require specially labelled products for the Chinese market and so the impact of any increased costs should be minimal.