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Consumer, Food & Retail Insights

| 1 minute read

SCOTCH WHISKY Now a Registered Certification Mark in Hong Kong

This is certainly good news for the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) as they work to promote the exceptional quality of products using the name and mark SCOTCH WHISKY. This benefits distilleries, scotch lovers at large, and scotch investors of course.

In granting a certification mark registration, Hong Kong has affirmatively recognised the SWA's competence in certifying the world-acclaimed distilled beverage, and the strict standards for those who use the name and mark SCOTCH WHISKY. This registration now empowers SWA to take legal actions to prevent unauthorized use of this name and mark on products labelled as "Scotch Whisky" or similar items in Hong Kong.

While Hong Kong doesn't have a distinct system for protecting geographical indications, the certification mark registration system effectively serves this purpose. Names like "PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA," "TEQUILA," "SWISS" (for watches), and now "SCOTCH WHISKY" benefit from this system due to their global recognition.

A certification mark shows that a competent independent organisation, distinct from a trader in the registered goods or services, has examined, tested, or certified them. The organisation determines the methods used to indicate or ensure certain specific characteristics or quality. The organisation can grant licences to its members, subscribers or service users to use its certification mark according to the regulations on the file.

As compared with other jurisdictions in East Asia, Hong Kong is relatively liberal in terms of the licensing criteria and other content of the regulations. So long as the applicant is a competent organisation, it enjoys autonomy in setting its own regulations. In examining applications for certification mark registration, the Trade Marks Registry examiners often give constructive feedback on draft regulations, and they allow multiple rounds of submission of draft amendments to the regulations.

Although it may take a few years to get a certification mark registered in Hong Kong, it is worth the wait. An organisation which does not trade in the goods or services at issue may have difficulty in bringing an enforcement action based on ordinary trade mark infringement. The infringer may revoke the ordinary trade mark registration for non-use, for example. A civil court action for passing off which requires proof of reputation on evidence often takes all the way to trial. In contrast, enforcement is likely to be easier and quicker based on a registered certification mark, in the form of a summary judgment in a civil court action for infringement.

Hong Kong is now one of more than 100 global territories which have officially recognised Scotch as a Scottish product, produced according to traditional methods, and deserving of special protection.


trademarks, infringement, licensing, food and beverage, hong kong