A nine-year legal battle over a wee word has finally come to an end.
Nova Scotia’s Glen Breton Whisky will keep its name after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear a final appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association, which has fought long and hard to keep the prefix “Glen” off labels of the single malt.
The Edinburgh-based association argued that the name could trick consumers into thinking that the whisky was a Scottish product since “Glen” is associated with many single malts distilled in Scotland, including Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. Scotch whisky is Scotland’s largest export.
The association, which also insists that the word “Scotch” apply only to whisky made in Scotland, said it would still oppose the use of the Glen Breton label outside Canada.
“We will be continuing to monitor the marketing of this product to ensure that it doesn’t cause consumer confusion and we will be opposing applications to register the mark in any country outside Canada were such confusion is likely,” said the association’s spokesman, David Williamson.
Glenora, which sells its Glen Breton whisky in small quantities in Canada, United States and Europe, argued that its product is clearly Canadian.
“In fact it says, ‘Glen Breton Rare – Canada’s only single malt whisky,’ and it has a large, red maple leaf on our label and on our box,” said Bob Scott, the distillery’s vice-president.
Glenora Distillery is located in Glenville, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton island.
The case initially landed in court in 2000 when the distillery applied for a trademark. The Scotch Whisky Association was unsuccessful in its first attempt to block the name, but it appealed and won. Glenora then appealed the second ruling and won the right to register Glen Breton in Canada.