Name Glen Buchenbach banned for a non-Scottish whisky

Published onMarch 2019

Last August, we spoke about the German whisky ‘Glen Buchenbach’ (here), which caused the preliminary ruling of the 7th of June of 2018 by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Case C‑44/17, Scotch Whisky Association v Michael Klotz.

The Court of Justice had been asked a series of questions by the Landgericht Hamburg (Regional Court in Hamburg, Germany) related to the interpretation of Article 16(a) to (c) of Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks.

The case had been initiated by the Scotch Whisky Association which had taken the view that the marketing of a German whisky under the designation ‘Glen Buchenbach’ was infringing the geographical indication ‘Scotch Whisky’.

Following the preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice, the Regional Court of Hamburg issued its decision on February the 7th, 2019 (case 327 O 127/16) stating that the use of the word ‘Glen’ constitutes a false or misleading indication liable to convey a false impression as to the origin of the whisky produced by the Waldhorn distillery in Germany.

Although the designation ‘Glen Buchenbach’ does not reproduce or imitate the geographical indication ‘Scotch Whisky’, and although it cannot be considered it would be an evocation of the GI ‘Scotch Whisky’, the Court of Hamburg judged the word ‘Glen’ could mislead the consumers.

It would be so because almost all whiskies with the word ‘Glen’ in their names are Scotch whiskies. As a consequence, consumers might think a whisky named ‘Glen’ would be a ‘Scotch Whisky’. And the other elements on the labels of the bottles are irrelevant for that matter.

Considering the potential implications of such a ruling, we would not be surprised if there was an appeal against the decision.

To be continued…

© INSCRIPTA