Vin & Sprit has lost its battle against The Wine Group subsidiary Golden State Vintners over the use of the Golden Gate trademark in Sweden.

The Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm, Sweden yesterday (26 September), sided with GSV and ordered the cancellation of V&S' registration of the Golden Gate trademark as well as awarding damages to GSV for breach of contract.

The Court of Appeal said that V&S infringed GSV's trademark rights by falsely claiming that it had secured permission to use the mark as well as breaching a license agreement by registering and selling wine under the trademark without permission.

TWG-Europe managing director Ulrike Backhaus-Mueller said: "The courts have affirmed our belief that V&S has sold counterfeit goods under the once revered Golden Gate brand name in Sweden. V&S has now so tarnished the reputation and image of the Golden Gate brand that the damages are approaching SEK235m (US$36.2m), which was the enterprise value of the brand in Sweden based on its 2005 retail sales."

TWG CEO David Kent added: "We have been fighting a rash of counterfeits of our leading brand, Franzia, in China for the past two years, but I never imagined we would be fighting this battle in Sweden. We are pleased that the court system in Sweden has carefully considered V&S' actions and has once again affirmed our rights."