SPI Group has been recognised as the owner of the Stolichnaya vodka brand name in Macedonia. In a statement yesterday (6 December), SPI Group said that the State Department of Industrial Property of Macedonia has confirmed SPI as Stolichnaya's owner in the country.

Russia's state-owned company Soyuzplodoimport and SPI have been disputing the brand's ownership since 2002.

In 2003, the World Intellectual Property Organisation ruled that the Stolichnaya brand, as well as some other famous brands, should belong to Soyuzplodoimport, and not to SPI, also known, confusingly, as ZAO Soyuzplodimport. The only difference between the names of the two companies is the letter 'o'.

Soyuzplodoimport sold its rights to the brands to Soyuzplodimport (SPI) in 1997. Critics said that the vodka trademarks were sold for US$300,000, while the market price for just two brands, Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, was estimated at US$400m at the time.

The patent authorities of France, Hungary, Cuba, Vietnam, Poland and Macedonia have refused to register the ownership of the brands. SPI has also won court battles on the brands' ownership in the Holland, Austria and Azerbaijan.