A GLOBAL whisky brand has launched a 250,000 law suit claiming customers are being duped into buying a
“poor imitation’ of its famous Scottish tipple.
Chivas Brothers Ltd say the labelling and silver packaging of another Scottish drink copies the design of its multi-million selling Chivas Regal 12-year-old whisky.
The firm, which was established in 1801, is taking action against Glencairn Scotch Whisky, and its director Raymond Davidson, who sell the Chivalry Special Reserve Scotch Whisky brand.
But Glasgow-based Glencairn and Mr Davidson are hitting back and are suing Chivas for using the word
“chivalry’ during a high-profile advertising campaign in 2008.
It is the latest legal skirmish in the battle for a share of the Scottish whisky industry, which is thought to be worth up to 3.5 bn a year.
Legal papers detailing both actions have been lodged with the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
According to court submissions made by lawyers acting for Chivas, Chivalry is of
“comparatively poor quality.”
But Chivas Regal 12-year-old has became a
“globally recognised brand’ since it was launched in 1950, they said.
In court statements explaining their action, Chivas said:
“As at the point of export from Scotland, the defenders’ whisky is an inherently deceptive product, calculated to cause confusion to consumers and to the trade in all countries in which the pursuers have established markets. Members of the public and of the trade have already experienced such confusion. “
Chivas say their product is packaged in a
“highly distinctive rectangular embossed silver gift box.”
The box also features
“Scottish heraldic symbols and representations of medieval arms, armour, jousting equipment and fortifications.”
The bottle itself uses the coat of arms of Chivas Brothers with the words
“Chivas Regal’ and
“Blended Scotch Whisky’ displayed on it.
The label also includes the Gaelic words
“Treibhireas Bunaiteachd’ – which means
“Fidelity Stability’ – and depicts a knight on horseback.
However, a bottle of Chivalry is also packaged in a curvaceous glass bottle with a silver and gold label, claim Chivas Brothers.
And the silver box it is sold in features Scottish heraldic symbols, medieval arms, armour, jousting equipment and fortifications, they said.
The firm even claims there are
“substantial aural and visual similarities’ between the words Chivas Regal and Chivalry.
Glencairn and Mr Davidson have defended themselves, claiming there is no linguistic similarity between the words Chivalry and Chivas.
They deny their drink is of
“comparatively poor quality.” Their lawyers said:
“There is no risk of the two brands being confused with each other from their labels or their packaging. “
Glencairn and Mr Davidson have
“no desire’ to pass off Chivalry whisky as having any link to Chivas Regal, lawyers claim.
The bottle shapes of the two whiskies are different and the Chivalry packaging has a
“drawbridge with chains’ feature, which the Chivas lacks, they said.
Chivas offered 50,000 to buy the Chivalry brand in 2008.
When negotiations broke down Chivas Brothers launched a multi-million pound advertising campaign for the whisky using slogans
“Live with Chivalry’ and
“Chivas Live with Chivalry. “
The slogans were used in television ads, cinemas and at rugby matches.
Glencairn was no longer selling its Chivalry brand at the time but relaunched the product to
“protect their position and their interest’ in the brand.
Glencairn now wants Chivas to hand over any profits they made as a result of the alleged advertising infringement.
The battle between Chivas and Glencairn is due to call again at the Court of Session next month.
Whisky industry bosses recently celebrated a victory for new legislation designed to protect the national drink.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) recently took a Glasgow-based company to court accusing it of passing off alcohol from Panama as the real deal.
It was the first time the new Scotch Whisky Regulations, drawn up in 2009, had been used.
The company involved, Reynald & Sons has now changed its advertising and has promised not to breach the rules again.
Experts welcomed the victory, saying it would help protect the reputation of the industry, which employs 35,000 people.