Patent Office clips WHITE STORK's wings
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In a surprising decision, the Chamber of Patent Disputes of the Russian Patent Office has ordered the cancellation of the trademark WHITE STORK (July 3 2008).
White Stork is a famous brandy produced by a Moldavian company, Aroma SA. It was launched in 1978 and quickly gained popularity. The trademark WHITE STORK is owned by the state-owned agro-industrial company Moldova-Vin. It is alleged that approximately 90 dekalitres of White Stork brandy were imported into Russia from November 2007 to April 2008.
In September 2007 a company called Altair filed an action for the cancellation of the mark WHITE STORK on grounds of non-use during the past three consecutive years. The Chamber of Patent Disputes found that the trademark owner had failed to establish use and ordered that the mark be removed from the register.
At first glance, all the legal requirements for the cancellation of the mark seemed to have been met. However, the import of Moldavian spirits was prohibited by the Russian authorities for a certain period ending in November 2007, which may have excused the three-year period of non-use of the mark. Therefore, the issue in this case was whether the mark was in use before the prohibition period and whether the trademark owner could prove such use.
It is unclear whether the trademark owner has used all avenues available to appeal the decision. An interesting aspect of the decision is the fact that very little is known about Altair. The attorney who represented the company before the Chamber of Patent Disputes gave no information on its field of activity, which rendered the decision of the chamber even more surprising. One can only speculate as to why Altair sought to cancel the WHITE STORK mark.
Vladimir Biriulin, Gorodissky & Partners, Moscow
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