AN EDINBURGH drinks business has been thwarted in its attempts to prevent a company distilling gin in Birmingham from using the name Leith in its branding.

Muckle Brig - the company behind the soon-to-be constructed Port of Leith Distillery - opposed an application from Gleann Mor Spirits to register a trademark bearing the words Leith Gin.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has rejected the opposition, with the officer overseeing the case, Allan James, stating that consumers are unlikely to assume that Leith Gin comes from the Port of Leith Distillery.

“It is common knowledge that in recent years there has been a resurgence in craft beers and spirits, particularly gin,” Mr James said.

“Thus it is no longer the case - if it ever was - that spirits are only distilled in large, almost industrial scale distilleries.

“Consequently, an average consumer of spirit drinks would not assume that there would be only one distiller of, or trader in, spirits based in Leith.”

Although Gleann Mor has a warehouse in Edinburgh, from where it distributes its Leith, Glasgow and Firkin Gin brands, its products are all distilled in Birmingham.

As revealed by The Herald in December, there is a growing trend for companies to add so-called Scottish botanicals such as seaweed or heather to spirits that have been made elsewhere before marketing them as craft Scottish products.

Unlike Scotch whisky, which must have a meaningful connection to a place to be able to use its name in its branding there are no specific rules around the naming of gins. An accreditation scheme run by the Scottish Craft Distillers Association is voluntary.

According to Gleann Mor’s evidence to the UKIPO, the company has been trading in gin since 2015 and sold 6,000 bottles in both that and the following year.

Its Leith Gin launched in July last year and its Glasgow Gin was released shortly afterwards in November.

Muckle Brig’s own product - The Antidote Gin - which is due to launch in April, is produced at the company’s stillhouse on Leith’s Tower Street.

The business is due to begin construction on its whisky distillery, which will be situated next to Royal Yacht Britannia in the Port of Leith, in the spring.

The firm, which is run by co-founders Ian Stirling and Patrick Fletcher, is in the process of raising £9 million from private investors to fund the build.

It is thought that the building will be Scotland’s first vertical distillery, with the stills on ground level, washbacks on the first floor and mash tuns on the floor above. A blending facility, tasting rooms and exhibition space will be at the top of the building.

Trademark disputes in the drinks industry are relatively common, with a similar case involving two rival Glasgow distilleries taking place last year.

Hillington-based Glasgow Distillery Company opposed an application from Morrison Glasgow Distillers to register a trademark bearing the name The Glasgow Distillery. The UKIPO found in the former’s favour, although Morrison had already begun using the name The Clydeside Distillery.