Friday, April 25, 2008

Canada's Whisky Set-Back

There has been a long running fight in the Canadian court systems over the ability of non-terroir specific producers to use names like 'Champagne' or 'Parma' or prosciutto in the context of various luxury foods (bubbles and pigs respectively). The Glenora Distillery, a Cape Breton manufacturer of a single malt whisky product has become latest combatant in this fight and it suffered a significant set-back recently. Glenora has been for the last few year distilling its own 'scotch' -- that is a distilled spirit made from a single type of malt and marketing it to great applause under the name of 'Glen Breton'. When it went to register this name as a trademark however the gauntlet was thrown down by the Scotch Whisky Association -- the proud defender of the various Glen's and Dahl's and Taliskers etc that distill their own spirituous concoction in the highlands, lowlands and islands of Scotland. Glenora won the first round of the fight and the Trademark Office registered their trademark.

Sadly Glenora lost the second round -- an appeal in the Federal Court -- as Mr. Justice Harrington ruled that the name 'Glen Breton' undoubtedly caused confusion in the minds of the ordinary consumer (who after all would typically be a bit off their game after their first drink anyway and reading in a darkened bar at the best of times) with the noble products of Robbie Burns' homeland. As such he held that poor Glenora could not be allowed to register the Glen Breton name and sent them back to the drawing the board. The judgment is worth a read if nothing more than for its amusing history of various 'Glen' thises or 'Glen' thats that have been sold out of places other than the Highlands and attached to things other than unsurpassed scotch single malts (I for one wonder if it is possible to find a bottle of Glenogopogo anywhere in the world today).

Justice Harrington did make the finally consoling comment though for the Scots of Cape Breton and, indeed, of all of Canada
To put matters into perspective, Scotland’s greatest export to this country was its people, not its whisky. Cape Bretoners, or “Capers”, are rightly proud of their heritage and are entitled to evoke it. However, it is too late to use the word “glen”.
I suspect that despite these words the kilts are being tightened, the cabers tossed, the pipes aired out for the next round of battle -- on to the Federal Court of Appeal, dear clansmen! Remember Sir John A!






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2 comments:

Karen said...
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karen said...
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