A legal challenge has begun at the Court of Session in Edinburgh over a developer’s use of a Highland village name.
The Tomatin Trading Company (TTC) has planning approval to build a £12m hotel and retail complex on the outskirts of Tomatin, beside the A9 south of Inverness.
The neighbouring Japanese-owned Tomatin Distillery which has produced whisky since 1897 is not opposed to the development but objects to the firm’s adoption of the trading name.
In a case concerning “intellectual property,” the distillery argues that the village name is “inherently associated” with its brand and that its use by the developer takes unfair advantage of an established reputation.
At the start of an expected six-day, online hearing, the distillery’s managing director Stephen Bremner, a witness in the case, faced a full day of cross examination.
During questioning, Usman Tariq, an advocate representing TTC, pressed the point that “Tomatin, as a place, has a distinct identity from the distillery”.
Mr Bremner said: “There’s no argument that there is a village called Tomatin. I’ve never denied that.”
In a later exchange, Mr Tariq suggested that “while Tomatin as a village might be small, it’s not entirely obscure, is it?”
Mr Bremner responded: “In terms of things to do and things to see, there’s not really anything in the village of Tomatin.”
The advocate suggested that if the developer’s intention is to “tap into the tourist potential of Tomatin, the Tomatin Trading Company name would be an important part of that aim.”
Mr Bremner said: “I just don’t see it. There’s really not a great deal for tourists to see in the area.”
The hearing is due to last six days.
Judge Lady Wolffe is expected to give her conclusions at a later date.