Russia regains rights to STOLICHNAYA and MOSKOVSKAYA vodka marks

Netherlands

On July 24 2012 the Hague Court of Appeal ruled that trademark rights in the popular vodka brands Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya belonged to the Russian Federation, and not to Dutch-based Spirits International, which is part of the Luxemburg-registered SPI Group, owned by Russian tycoon Yuri Scheffler.

The STOLICHNAYA and MOSKOVSKAYA marks have been the object of a dispute between the Russian government and the SPI Group for over 10 years.

Scheffler claimed that he had legally acquired the rights in the brands after state-owned vodka producer Soyuzplodoimport was privatised.

In contrast, the Russian state authorities argued that Scheffler had illegally purchased the rights to 43 Soviet vodka brands for $300,000 (approximately €243,000) in 1997 and had granted licences to various vodka manufacturers all over the world. The Russian authorities invalidated the purchase in 2001 and transferred the rights to Soyuzplodoimport, which began legal proceedings against the SPI Group in various countries.

The Dutch court also prohibited the defendant from using the phrases 'Russkaya Vodka' ('Russian Vodka') and 'Sdelano v Rossii' ('Made in Russia') on vodka labels.

Jelena Jankovic, PETOŠEVIC, Belgrade

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