21 February 2018Trademarks

Austrian court serves SPI Group with vodka trademark victory

Luxembourg-based SPI Group has been handed a win over the ownership of two vodka trademarks in Austria.

The long-running international dispute has seen SPI Group, which owns and distributes wine and spirits, battle it out across the globe with Russian state enterprise FKP Sojuzplodoimport. The conflict is over who owns the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya vodka trademarks.

According to a press release, the Appellate Court of Linz in Austria ruled in favour of SPI, confirming its ownership of the trademarks in the country.

The decision comes after The Hague Court of Appeal ruled against SPI in the Benelux region—which consists of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg—as reported by WIPR.

In its January decision, the Dutch court ruled that FKP is the rightful owner of the trademarks, ordered SPI to stop selling the vodka in the Benelux region, and made it pay all profits from selling the vodka in the region since 1999.

However, the Dutch court said that this decision would have no binding effect on the Austrian proceedings.

FKP believes that the trademarks have always remained property of the Russian state since it was the USSR and then when it became the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (now the Russian Federation).

FKP first sued SPI Group at the District Court of Rotterdam in 2003, arguing that it is the rightful owner of the trademarks.

Despite this, the Austrian court ruled that SPI is entitled to the trademarks.

The victory is another success story for SPI. In October 2017, the Federal Court of Appeal of Brazil also confirmed that SPI is the rightful owner of the vodka trademarks in Brazil.

SPI is an international operation, with production facilities in the US, Latvia, Mexico, Argentina and Spain.

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More on this story

15 January 2018   The Hague Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of a Russian state enterprise owning the rights to the Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya and Stoli vodka brands.
26 February 2018   Two EU General Court decisions and one ruling from Austria have provided some welcome guidance for trademark owners, as WIPR reports.