Theresa May has secured a 10-year renewal of the Scotch Whisky trademark in China, protecting it from local counterfeit products

In her recent trade visit to China, Prime Minister Theresa May was accompanied by Karen Betts, the Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) – the industry body that promotes, protects, and represents the interests of the whisky industry in Scotland and around the world.

Scotch Whisky exports worldwide earn the UK £127 every second (totaling more than £4bn annually) with 25 bottles exported to China alone every minute – a 25% increase from last year. This lucrative business, alongside the world-renowned brand of Scotch Whisky, draws its fair share of trademark infringement. Since the SWA first secured trademark protection for Scotch Whisky in China in 2008, it’s had to deal with over 200 Chinese brands falsely labelled as ‘Scotch Whisky’ and fought more than 100 trademark battles with Chinese products that have tried to feature Scottish words or images.

The Chinese authorities have agreed to renew the SWA’s collective trademark 'SCOTCH WHISKY' and its translation '苏格兰威士忌' in China until November 2028, thereby protecting genuine Scotch Whisky from locally produced copies, with Betts saying:

‘The industry has enjoyed great support from the Chinese authorities, who take food fraud and IP protection seriously, in tackling fake ‘Scotch’.’

The renewal of the trademark is an important step in protecting Scotch Whisky from local counterfeit products and securing future growth for the world's leading high-quality spirit drink in China, the world's largest spirits market. Betts went on to say:

‘I'm delighted to join the Prime Minister on this trade visit to showcase the heritage, craft and quality of Scotch Whisky – the UK's largest food and drink export.  China is a key market for Scotch Whisky, both now and in the future, and legal protection is the firm foundation on which our future trade is built.’