SPI Group 'disappointed' over Stolichnaya ruling
SPI owns the rights to Stolichnaya outside of Russia
SPI Group has said is "very disappointed" by a Dutch court's demand that it return its Stolichnaya rights to the Russian state and is reviewing the ruling.
Rotterdam's District Court yesterday ordered SPI's Dutch subsidiary, Spirits International, to hand control of Stolichnaya and two other vodka brands, Moskovskaya and Na Zdorovye, to the Russian state-owned Soyuzplodoimport within three months or face a fine of EUR50,000 (US$55,000) per day. The ruling covers the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Spirits International was also told it could no longer call its vodka "Russian" or claim that is is produced in Russia.
A spokesperson for SPI told just-drinks today that company lawyers are reviewing the decision, but that it affected only a “small part of our overall global market”.
The spokesperson added: “We are very disappointed in it because we think it is not correct in light of the facts and the relevant law. We are examining all of our options for the next steps."
The court fight is the latest round in a long-running battle over the rights of the vodka brands.
SPI bought the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya trademarks, along with 41 other brands, from Soyuzplodoimport in 1997 for US$300,000. However, the Russian Federation regained the rights within its borders and in 2002 released Stolichnaya in Russia under its own label.
Authorities in Russia claim SPI illegally bought the rights at far below market value by taking advantage of the chaos following the Soviet Union's break up.
Since then, legal battles have been fought in a number of courts over who owns the brands.
Yesterday's ruling was the latest in a long-running court battle in the Netherlands.
SPI appealed a similar decision in 2012 and made additional arguments, but was not successful, a spokesperson for the company told-just drinks. The 2012 ruling and another one from 2006 form the basis of the latest decision, the spokesperson added.
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