William Grant claims it has held the DoubleWood trademark in New Zealand since 1994

William Grant claims it has held the 'DoubleWood' trademark in New Zealand since 1994

William Grant & Sons is facing a legal showdown with a New Zealand whisky distillery over the trademark 'DoubleWood'.

The UK-headquartered group has asked that New Zealand Whisky Company (NZWC) stop using the mark 'DoubleWood', as it claims the name could be confused with its Scotch whisky The Balvenie DoubleWood brand. William Grant has alleged that the New Zealand firm's Dunedin DoubleWood brand breaches the 1986 Fair Trading Act.

However, the NZWC looks set to fight the move. “We feel they don't have grounds for a cease and desist,” the group's chief executive Greg Ramsay reportedly told the New Zealand Herald. “Their legal threat is full of bluster and heavy-handedness. We don't contravene their existing trademark because we were using it first, and in any case, we say there is no consumer confusion.”

But, in a statement to just-drinks today (27 August), a William Grant spokesperson claimed it has been using the trademark in New Zealand since 1994, which “significantly predates the New Zealand Whisky Co’s relatively recent use”.

The spokesperson added: “Given the length of time William Grant & Sons has been using the DoubleWood trademark in New Zealand and internationally, and the goodwill that is now associated with the trademark, it is simply seeking to protect its valid rights from others who have sought to associate themselves with this goodwill.”

Late last year, the Scotch Whisky Association won a trademark dispute with a New Zealand off-licence chain over a whisky-flavoured spirit that claimed to "evoke the flavour of the Highlands".