Pernod Ricard's Irish Distillers unit has begun legal action against rival Irish whiskey producer Cooley Distillery.

The Pernod subsidiary is suing Cooley, claiming that a whiskey Cooley produces and bottles for a Russian company breaches its Jameson copyright. Cooley produces a whiskey for Russian distributor Roterhouse called St Patrick's which, Irish Distillers claims, resembles its Jameson Irish whiskey brand.

Speaking to just-drinks yesterday (29 January), Cooley's founder and chairman, John Teeling, confirmed the legal action. "Roterhouse gets its own-label Irish whiskey from us, and has started actively pushing it in Russia," Teeling said. "Roterhouse also distributes Pernod's products in the country, and Pernod complained (about St Patrick's) to Roterhouse."

Teeling highlighted that Cooley handles only the production and bottling of St Patrick's, with Roterhouse dealing with the branding and labelling of the whiskey.

"We received an affidavit from Irish Distillers three weeks ago," Teeling added. "They're after us because, relatively-speaking, we're weak. We'll defend our position with the support of Rotorhouse."

The case went to court in Ireland last week.

No-one was available for comment at Irish Distillers when contacted by just-drinks today.