The Scotch Whisky Association has won a court battle against Anhui Guangyu Packaging Technology Company in the Anqing Intermediate People’s Court in eastern China.
The firm was manufacturing bottle caps imprinted with the words ‘Scotch whisky’. The caps were used on bottles of fake ‘Scotch’ appearing on sale more than 1,000 miles away in Myanmar.
Lindesay Low, SWA senior legal counsel, said: “This victory in the Chinese civil court is significant for a number of reasons and should be seen as a legal breakthrough. We are confident this will help deter other potential counterfeiters and fraudsters in China.
“Now that the appeal period has expired and the judgement has become final, we are focussing on enforcing the award of damages. There is also a possible criminal case against the director of Annhui Packaging Technology Company and discussions are ongoing with the public prosecutor.”
The court victory represents a number of ‘firsts’ for the industry, according to the SWA.
The international aspect of the case was a precedent. It involved the SWA disrupting a cross-border supply chain. Previously the Association has only taken action against products manufactured and sold in China.
This was the first case where the SWA has successfully taken action against a manufacturer of packaging. Normally it sues after demonstrating that the liquid inside the bottle is not Scotch. In this instance the SWA convinced the court that the caps were to be used illegally although no complete bottles were discovered.
The SWA says this is helpful as more manufacturers of fake spirits split the production process between different locations to reduce the chance of being caught.