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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Scotch Whisky Association, Virginia Distillery Co. reach settlement over labeling of Virginia-Highland Whisky

Federal Court

By Charmaine Little | Sep 2, 2019


WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) – Virginia Distillery Co. has reached a settlement with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in a lawsuit over allegations of product mislabeling.

Virginia Distillery said recently in a statement that it reached an agreement with SWA regarding its Virginia-Highland Whisky series. It said it would stop using "highland" in connection with the drink after it runs out of its current stock. It did point out that the distillery will continue using the word "whisky" to label bottles “which is allowed under U.S. law,” according to the statement.

As previously reported by Legal Newsline, SWA sued the distillery on July 8 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware over allegations of false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices. 

SWA took issue with Virginia Distillery’s packaging for its Highland Whisky, which it advertised as “whisky from Scotland married with Virginia whisky.” SWA alleged this could cause consumer to believe that the product contains whiskey that originated from Scotland when it did not. The suit states federal regulations state the words "highland" and "Scotch" cannot be used on whiskey not wholly produced in Scotland.

“We stand behind the quality of the Virginia-Highland Whisky products and the awards and general recognition they have received the past three-plus years, but are happy to work with the Scotch Whiskey Association to ensure that there is no chance of confusion about our products," Virginia Distillery CEO Gareth Moore said in the statement. 

"From the start, Virginia Distillery Co. has been transparent about the nature of our products, which have been recognized for their quality, and we are committed to growing and championing the American Single Malt Whiskey category.”

The statement said the SWA was "pleased" with the settlement.

“We welcome Virginia Distillery Co.’s willingness to work with us to protect the integrity of Scotch whisky. With the company’s commitment to remove all references to ‘highland’ and other Scottish indicators from their products over a phased period, we are pleased to cease the pending legal proceedings," said Lindesay Low, deputy director of legal affairs at SWA. 

"We appreciate the prompt and positive attitude shown by the Virginia Distillery Co. team in bringing the issue to resolution, removing the need for action in the courts to protect the intellectual property of Scotch whisky.”

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