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Court rules domestic whisky not Scotch

An Indian court has ordered domestic whisky makers not to use the words "Scot" or "Scotch" for their distilled brews.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2006 14:47 IST

An Indian court has ordered domestic whisky makers not to use the words "Scot" or "Scotch" for their distilled brews as it would violate global copyright laws, a lawyer said on Monday.

The Delhi High Court also ordered India's Golden Bottling Ltd to pay Rs 810,000 in penalties to the Scotch Whisky Association of Britain which filed the case, said Pravin Anand, counsel for the association.

Judge Madan B Lokur agreed that "the words Scot or Scotch" identify whisky produced in Scotland and no domestic manufacturer can use them to market its liquor," Anand said.

The Scotch Whisky Association of Britain filed the case against Golden Bottling when it found the latter using the words "Red Scot" to sell its whisky, Anand said.

Golden Bottling's use of "Scot" gave the impression that its product originated in Scotland or that it was Scotch whisky, Anand said.

This is the first ruling under India's Geographical Indications law passed in 1999 in concert with the World Trade Organisation's Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, Anand said.

The law identifies products that originate from a particular territory.

"I am satisfied that the domestic manufacturer is liable to be restrained from passing off its Red Scot whisky as a produce of Scotland," a news agency quoted judge Lokur as saying.

"This can only be done by injunction from using the word Scot or any other word similar thereto in the whisky manufactured by it," the judge said.

Since the domestic manufacturer did not contest the lawsuit it appears that "it is not averse to dropping the word Scot from its whisky," the judge was quoted as saying by the news agency.

The High Court ruling last week follows others ordering errant Indian firms to pay heavy fines for copyright violations to major international companies.

These include $53,000 to Cartier, $35,000 to Time magazine and $280,000 to Microsoft -- all made last year.