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Scottish Whisky Now Protected as a Geographical Indicator in 18 African Countries.

The retail market in Africa is getting more sophisticated, as countries with a growing middle class show increased interest in high end consumer brands. This has seen international brand owners taking greater interest in protecting their IP on the continent.

Scotch whisky is already protected as a Geographical Indication meaning that in nearly 100 countries including the whole of the European Union only whisky produced in Scotland under certain standards can bear the name Scotch whisky.

A Geographical Indication right allows rights holders the right to use the indication to prevent use by a third party whose product do not conform to the applicable standards. In this case, in addition to the whisky having to be made in Scotland to qualify as Scotch whisky, it also has to be aged in oak barrels for at least three years.

Under the WTO TRIPs agreement, members to the agreement agree to provide member states a means for interested parties to prevent the use of any means in the designation or presentation of a good that indicates or suggests that the good in question originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin in a manner which misleads the public as to the geographical orgin of the good.

Protection for a geographical indication (GI) is granted by a national (regional) competent authority upon request. In some countries the function of granting GI protection is carried out by a special body responsible for GI protection. In other countries, the national intellectual property (IP) office carries out this function.

Botswana was the first country in Africa to protect Scotch whisky as a geographical indicator in July 2015. This was possible because Botswana created a system for recognising GI’s which entails that the body that represents the producers of the product has to be registered in Botswana in order to receive protection.

In September 2015 it was reported that Organisation Africaine de la Propriete Intellectuelle (OAPI) also registered Scotch whisky as a geographical indicator. OAPI representing 17 member states brings the total protection for Scotch whisky to 18 countries around Africa.

Whisky is increasingly the drink of choice for middle income Africans with countries such as Kenya registering a 73 per cent increase in the amount of whiskey exported to Kenya with specific imports of Scotch whiskey amounting to £3.37 million in 2013. With the current trend, the protection of Scottish whisky by the Scottish Whisky Association, ensures that they have the tools they need to protect consumers from counterfeit products and themselves from unfair competition.

We look forward to seeing more registrations of this kind on the continent.

For more information kindly contact Carole Theuri

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