Scottish brands such as Harris Tweed and Johnnie Walker whisky could be vulnerable to counterfeiters if Scotland becomes independent, experts have warned.
If the Scots vote Yes today, rules on trademarks would have to be drawn up and brands would be forced to re-register.
The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys has warned Scotland would need new intellectual property (IP) laws once it left the UK and brands would have to pay to re-register which could leave time for counterfeiters to steal brands.
Chris McLeod, president of ITMA, said that to ensure Scotland protects its brands within its own borders, “the Scottish government would need to establish its own laws to prevent infringement. Otherwise we could find ourselves unwittingly wearing Paris Tweed and drinking Famous Mouse.”
The length of time taken to draw up new rules could mean counterfeiters could start selling products under well-known brand names without a law to stop them.
Aaron Wood, of patent attorneys Swindell & Pearson, said: “It is a complete nightmare. Trademarks would need to be re-registered. Brands and smaller designers and companies could lose out to counterfeiters if they don’t have the time or money to re-register.” Mr Wood said all trademarks, not just Scottish brands, would need to re-register in Scotland if it leaves the UK, and said Scotland could charge about £100 for each registry.
He added: “If Scotland ends up not staying in the EU it would mean European trademark protection would not be in place either.”