Court to decide if branding of Swabian whisky is too Scottish

A decision in a long-running court dispute on whether a Swabian distillery can call their whisky "Glen Buchenbach"- or if that name is too Scottish - is expected on Thursday.

Court to decide if branding of Swabian whisky is too Scottish
The Glen Buchenbach whisky. Photo: DPA

Distiller Michael Klotz clearly states on his product that his Swabian single malt whisky is produced in Berglen near Stuttgart. But the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) took the Waldhorn Distillery (Waldhornbrennerei) in Baden-Württemberg to court over the label and its branding. 

The association claimed that the use of the word “glen” — which means valley in Gaelic — on the bottle was misleading to consumers. The word “glen”, they argued, gave customers the impression that it was a Scottish whisky, a “Scotch”.

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Scotch Whisky, one of Scotland's biggest exporters which accounts for 20% of UK food and drink exports, and about 40,000 jobs, can only be sold in the EU if it is actually made in Scotland.

The term “Scotch” is a ‘designation of origin’ title protected by the EU, similar to “Champagne” or “Prosecco” for sparkling wines from certain regions of France and Italy.

On the Waldhorn Distillery website, the product is described as being named after the Buchenbach valley, which runs through Berglen. It also explains the Scottish Gaelic origins of the word “glen”.

What does an average European consumer think?

The SWA took the distillery to court in Hamburg, and German judges referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which clarifies points of EU law.

The ECJ examined the case last June but made no final decision. The court sent the case back to the German judiciary, with some guidance. 

The ECJ said it should be examined whether an “average European consumer who is reasonably well informed and reasonably observant” thinks of the protected title “Scotch” if he has in front of him a similar product with the unprotected part of the name: “glen”.

The Hamburg Court now has to decide whether the word “glen” evokes associations with Scotland and, therefore, with Scottish whisky. The lawyer for the Waldhorn Distillery has argued that the word “glen” has nothing to do with the association of “Scotch”.

The lawyer for the Scottish whisky producers, on the other hand, argued that it was precisely the higher quality whiskies from Scotland that contained this component of the name, and that it was not merely an allusion to a protected designation, but was in fact a deliberate misleading of the consumer.

A decision on the case is expected on Thursday. 

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Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to lift priority list and allow GPs to vaccinate all adults

The two southern states are set to lift the priority order for vaccines from GPs, allowing family doctors to vaccinate everyone over the age of 18.

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to lift priority list and allow GPs to vaccinate all adults
A GP's waiting room in Munich on May 31st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

From next week, all adults – regardless if they are in a priority group or not – will have the chance to book a Covid-19 vaccine at a family doctor in the two southern German states.

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder confirmed the move after the CSU parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday. He said it would happen “over the course of next week” to give doctors time to prepare, reported broadcaster BR24.

Germany follows a strict priority list for who can receive a Covid vaccine first, mainly based on age, health condition and occupation.

So far, authorities have only lifted the priority list for vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The federal government plans to offer all vaccines, including the two other approved vaccines BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, to all adults in June.

However, Bavaria said it plans to offer vaccines to everyone sooner.

READ ALSO: How did Germany turbocharge its vaccine rollout – and what can it do better?

Baden-Württemberg also announced that it would allow GPs to vaccinate all adults even if they are not in a priority group from Monday. 

It comes despite the state health minister Manfred Lucha urging people to wait their turn for a jab.

According to Lucha, those most at risk from Covid need solidarity from society. “This includes waiting your turn to be vaccinated,” Lucha said in Stuttgart on Tuesday.

In both states, the offer only applies to GPs at this point; vaccination centres will still follow the priority list. 

READ ALSO: Berlin and Baden-Württemberg begin vaccinating priority group 3

Vaccine still in short supply

The Bavarian GP Association welcomed the move to lift the priority order for all coronavirus vaccines in medical practices.

“We stand for pragmatism,” state chairman Markus Beier told broadcaster BR24. He said GP patients were growing impatient as they are desperate to be inoculated against Covid.

However, Beier said there needed to be clear communication on the availability of vaccine supplies.

The German Foundation for Patient Protection slammed the planned vaccine release.

As long as there is not enough vaccine doses, politicians could cause a “rift” in society with a decision like this, said board member Eugen Brysch.

“It’s not the prioritisation that hinders vaccination progress, but rather the lack of vaccine,” he said.

The decisions in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to allow family doctors vaccinate people regardless of the risk group priority list are an example of “how you can both increase the vaccination pressure on doctors and create frustration in society,” he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Mood is getting more aggressive’: Thousands of people in Germany caught skipping line for Covid vaccine

Further opening steps for Bavaria

Meanwhile, Bavaria plans to allow outdoor swimming pools to open from May 21st with conditions including negative Covid tests (for unvaccinated guests) if the 7-day incidence stays below 100.

Likewise, outdoor cultural events with up to 250 people are to be allowed. Prerequisites are fixed seating, tests and hygiene plans.

After Whitsun later in May, Söder said, there would be a review of the possibilities for indoor dining. “All in all, we have done really well, despite one or two setbacks,” he said.

He emphasised that a cautious strategy was still needed.