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CHINA: Wholesaler sent to prison over "fake" Scotch whisky

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A wholesaler in China has been given a four-year prison sentence for selling “fake” Scotch whisky in the country's first case centered on the term 'Scotch'.

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LI Cuihong, a wholesaler from Urumqi, was also handed a GBP50,000 (US$79,100) fine after legal action was brought by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). Chuihong was prosecuted for distributing products labelled as Scotch whisky, which were instead unaged Chinese spirits, the SWA said today (25 January). 

Lindesay Low, the SWA's legal adviser for China, noted that the country is a “growing market” for Scotch. “Unfortunately, its popularity also makes the production and sale of fake Scotch whisky a lucrative pursuit,” he said.

“The Chinese authorities are very supportive in the fight against fakes and this case shows they are willing to crack down on those involved.” 

It is the first time the Scotch whisky trademark in China has been used to bring a criminal case in the country, the SWA said. Previous prosecutions have involved the misuse of company trademarks. 

Cuihong had previously served a prison sentence for selling illegal spirits, the SWA said. 

The group last month won a long-running trademark dispute involving a whisky-like drink in New Zealand.


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