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Is your drink genuine?

Going by some cases dealt with by Delhi High Court recently, there are chances that one could be consuming local liquor.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2009 20:20 IST
Kanu Sarda

Those in the habit of downing a few pegs of "good quality foreign whisky" to beat the winter chill should carefully examine what exactly they are drinking.

Going by some cases dealt with by Delhi High Court recently, there are chances that one could be consuming "deceptive" local liquor, which is not just an imitation of a well-known foreign brand but even uses its discarded, empty bottles, purchased from kabariwalas (scrap merchants).

The high court's observations came when two leading foreign wine and spirit manufacturers - Pernod Ricard (PR) of France, along with its subsidiary Seagram - filed a case against the local Rhizome Distilleries, while California-based Sutter Home Winery sought legal remedies against the Future Wine & Spirit Brands.

Both sued the Indian companies for infringement of their registered trademark and copyright and won the cases.

In the first case, the French company, which also produces well-known whisky brands like Chivas Regal, 100 Pipers, Ballantines and Blenders Pride, accused the Indian distillery of trading upon the goodwill and reputation built up by them.

They argued the use of their distinctive trademark of their brand would indicate that the Rhizome's brand was also their product, and may lead to confusion or deception in the minds of consumers.

Upholding their claim, the high court restrained 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, which was deceptively similar to the Imperial Blue brand manufactured by Pernord Ricard.

"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 judge Reva Khetrapal, ruling in favour of the French company.

In another case too, the court granted an injunction to well-known Californian wine firm Sutter Home against Indian firm Future Brands, which was selling its wine under the name Sutter House.

Sutter Home had contended that it was a most blatant copy since not only was the name nearly identical and confusingly similar, it was also being used in relation to the same kind of products, sold through similar channels and targeting a similar audience.

The court agreed with the contention and stopped the Indian firm from using the name for any of its wines or other products.