Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.
WEDNESDAY, 25 JULY 2012
Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya vodkas return to Russian state control
In a landmark decision made public today, the appeal court in The Hague ruled that the rights in the world famous vodka brands “Stolichnaya” and “Moskovskaya” belonged after all to the Russian Federation. The following note has been received with thanks from Hoyng Monegier (Amsterdam), which acted for the Russian Federation:
The legal battle between the Russian Federation and
Spirits, the Dutch company owned by
Russian oligarch Yuri Shefler, has been on-going for some 10 years. Mr Shefler is accused of having illegally obtained the rights in the leading vodka
brands “Stolichnaya” and ” Moskovskaya” in the turbulent years following the
demise of the USSR. In its judgment the
Court of Appeal confirmed that Shefler did not act in good faith in
obtaining these valuable vodka trade marks. According to the Court of
Appeal, Spirits is not the rightful owner of the “Stolichnaya” and
“Moskovskaya” trade marks. The rights to these world leading vodka brands belong
to the Russian Federation.
been licensing the sale of “Stolichnaya” and “Moskovskaya” vodka worldwide
since the mid 1990s. Spirits argued that it had rightfully acquired the
trade marks from the Russian State company which originally owned the trade mark
registrations after the company had been "privatised". The
Court ruled that no valid privatisation of the State company has
taken place and that the marks thus remained with the Russian State.
the Court, Spirits and its director, Yuri Shefler, knew or should have known
about this. In addition, the documents available on the alleged
"privatisation" should have cast doubts on its validity. Further,
the alleged privatisation took place in the "chaotic" period when the
USSR fell apart and many State assets were illegally sold off. Moreover,
according to the Court, the purchase price for the worldwide portfolio of
trade marks was much lower than their actual value. Mr. Shefler
and Spirits therefore acted in bad faith when acquiring them.
trade marks have remained with the Russian Federation it is entitled to prohibit
the sale of “Stolichnaya” and” Moskovskaya” vodka by Spirits.
Court ruled that Spirits is not allowed to use the words "Russian
Vodka" or "Made in Russia" on its bottles. According to the
Court this denomination is misleading as the product is not manufactured by
Spirits in Russia.
The decision of
the The Hague appeals court can not be challenged on the merits. Spirits may
appeal to the Supreme Court which has limited possibilities to review the case.
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