Hic! Judges help crackdown on fake whisky | business | Hindustan Times
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Hic! Judges help crackdown on fake whisky

business Updated: Nov 17, 2008 21:09 IST
Harish V Nair

Is your soothing whisky this winter a deceptive local brew bottled with a label or packing that sounds like a big global brand?

Going by a “prima-facie finding” and stinging observations from the Delhi High Court, there are chances you are having a “deceptive” local stuff .

Leading foreign wine and spirit manufacturers---Pernod Ricard (PR) of France and their subsidiary Seagram—moved an Indian court against this “shocking trend” and won a favourable court verdict. They sued a local distillery for trademark violations of their brands ‘Imperial Blue’ and ‘Royal Stag.’

The Delhi High Court restrained the local liquor manufacturer— Rhizome Distilleries— from “manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, directly or indirectly dealing in whisky or any other alcoholic beverages under the trademark ‘Imperial Gold’ deceptively similar to the trademarks ‘Imperial Blue or Imperial Red” manufactured by the French company.

“It is not inconceivable that sub-standard whisky may prove to be even more injurious than a sub-standard medicinal or pharmaceutical product, and may lead to lethal consequences, even wholesale disastrous ones…..”, said Justice Reva Khetrapal issuing an order in favour of the French company.

Countering Rhizome Distilleries’ defence that the word ‘Imperial’ was a common term and the French company could not claim any exclusive right over it, the court said “the word ‘Imperial’ may be generic if used by a member of the royal family, but certainly it will be arbitrary when applied to a whisky and that too, a whisky other than Scotch, and furthermore a whisky in the lower price segment.

“(The) defendant (Rhizome) appears to have either used the discarded bottles f the plaintiffs' Royal Stag whisky with Seagram embossed at the bottom of the bottle or have got manufactured the same. Such fraudulent and dishonest adoption cannot be shrugged off as coincidental”, said the judge.