The IWA member companies’ move to treble the legal budget for product infringement ensures sufficient resources to fight against products that infringe on the laws governing the labelling and sale of Irish whiskey.
Irish whiskey is an internationally-recognised Geographic Indication, meaning that Irish whiskey can only be made on the island of Ireland in line with an approved technical file.
But as the success of the product continues to skyrocket, the number of imitation Irish whiskeys is beginning to grow too with the number of reported infringements trebling since 2014.
“Whether it’s a Russian spirit with brown colouring or a US-made whiskey being labelled as ‘Irish-style’, it’s not authentic Irish whiskey,” commented IWA Head William Lavelle, speaking at the Irish Pubs Global conference in Galway recently, “ The IWA, under the direction of our Head Legal Advisor Carleen Madigan, will be increasing our response to such infringements in line with the priority and funding being provided by our member companies who’re the people making real, authentic Irish whiskey here in Ireland”.
The IWA has been taking action against these imitation products since 2014 and this work will ramp-up from 2019, he said.
“To date, we’ve successfully resolved a number of reported infringement matters through working directly with the brand owners agreeing to take the necessary corrective action. We’re also actively pursuing a number of infringing brands in Russia as well as a number of mislabelling issues with products on sale in the EU.”
At the conference of international Irish pub-owners he urged Irish pubs around the world to help by checking that the Irish whiskeys they supply are GI-compliant and by reporting any suspected cases of ‘fake’ Irish whiskeys.
Where GI protection is not available, other means of protecting Irish whiskey are considered such as registering Irish whiskey as a certification or collective trademark. With the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, the IWA has applications pending in Australia, South Africa, Russia, India and Thailand.
“These new guidelines will mean that consumers can be assured that the information appearing on an Irish whiskey label is accurate and not misleading” he added, “and it will provide a clear and agreed benchmark against which complaints of misleading labelling can be assessed and enforced against.”
The IWA and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland have also recently agreed to a new set of Guidelines on the labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey.