The word „GLEN“ comes from the Gaelic and refers to a narrow valley.
The Scottish firewater’s friends are aware of the numerous whiskeys whose brand name begins with this abbreviation and which, in general, actually represents a geographical origin. What can be said now if a small German company, which is not located in the Scottish Highlands but rather in the tranquil German Swabia, calls its whiskey „GLEN BUCHENBACH“?
Not much, in any case, this is at least what the Scottish Whiskey Association SWA thinks, which has filed a lawsuit against the use of the term because it sees it as an improper indirect use of the protected geographical indication „Scotch Whiskey“. According to the association, the word „Glen“ awakens an association with Scotland and Scotch whiskey, while the product of the Waldhorn distillery is produced in Berglen near Stuttgart.
In decision C-44/17, the European Court of Justice has now referred the case back to the Regional Court Hamburg for a decision. However, this was not made without reference to the fact that the interpretation of the relevant Union legislation on the protection of Geographical Indications (Regulation (EC) No 110/2008) must be based on whether the content of the contested word is used in a form identical to that given or graphically or phonetically very close. Anyways, it would not be enough if the term merely arouses some kind of association among the target public.
With this tenor, the direction is given for the Regional Court Hamburg. Apart from the fact that probably not every eligible consumer knows the term „Glen“, an interpretation of the term in the direction of the Protected Geographical Indication is hardly conceivable because that would just call into question the objective of the Regulation, namely ensuring a more systematic organization of legislation on food products.
After the lively Swabians have also expressly pointed out on the label that this is a „Swabian Single Malt Whisky“ „Made in Berglen“, the SWA will probably not be successful.