Scotch whisky seeks copyright protection in China

Fri Nov 5, 2010 12:58pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - All Scotch whisky sold in China may soon be marked with a geographical indicator as the industry's trade group strives to protect against counterfeit versions of the increasingly popular spirit.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said it applied to China in 2007 to allow only Scotch from Scotland to carry the name, and expects an announcement from the Chinese government on Monday, coinciding with the start of a visit by British ministers and business leaders.

Scotch whisky exports to China have surged in recent years, raking in 28 million pounds ($45 million) in the first six months of this year alone, a 66 percent increase from the year-ago period.

But Chinese producers have jumped in to take advantage of the boom, with at least 200 imitation products identified in the past two years, according to media reports.

In September, London and Beijing signed a new intellectual property agreement to protect British brands, and the SWA hopes Monday's announcement will further safeguard Scotch's copyright status.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Angus MacSwan)