Highland Park whisky owner sued in US trademark dispute

Image source, Highland Park/Bultema Group
Image caption,
The lawsuit claims the Highland Park expression "bears a similar design and overall appearance" to its own labels

A Scotch whisky producer is being sued in a US court for allegedly infringing a bourbon maker's trademark.

A lawsuit filed by Joseph A. Magnus & Co in Washington DC claims Highland Distillers does not have the right to use the mark "Magnus" on a Highland Park malt whisky it sells in America.

It argues that the Scotch expression "bears a similar design and overall appearance" to its own "Magnus" labels.

Highland Park said the matter had been passed to its lawyers "for review".

The lawsuit, which has been seen by BBC Scotland, claims that both Joseph A. Magnus's spirits and the Highland Park bottle in question feature "a solid black label with stylised white writing and design".

The action, which was filed in a District of Columbia court on 6 November, also accuses Edrington Group-owned Highland Park of "false designation of origin and unfair competition".

The American firm claims that it has continuously used the "Magnus-formative marks" in relation to its distilled spirits in the US since 2015, about two years before the Orkney-based distiller began to market and distribute its "Magnus" expression in America.

It is asking the court to grant an injunction preventing the Scotch whisky firm from using the mark. It is also seeking damages.

A spokesman for Highland Park said: "We're aware that a claim has been made in the US and the matter has been passed to our lawyers for review."

BBC Scotland has approached Joseph A. Magnus & Co for comment.