A Swedish appeal court has ruled against Vin & Sprit in a legal dispute between the state-owned spirits producer and a small vodka company, J&J Nordic, over the use of the name and picture of the 19th century businessman, Lars Olsson Smith.

V&S had sued the company, based in Kaellby, for copyright infringement for using the image and name of Smith, also known as the "King of Vodka" on its L.O. Smith brand of vodka. Smith is considered by V&S to be the founder of its Absolut brand and his image is imprinted on Absolut bottles.

However, the appeal court upheld an earlier lower court judgment which ruled that there was no risk of consumers confusing the two brands and that the Smith name and image were not part of the Absolut trademark. It had also ordered V&S to pay J&J Nordic's legal costs amounting to SKr120,000 ($13,000).