SPI has fought with Soyuzplodoimport over the Stolichnaya name for a number of years

SPI has fought with Soyuzplodoimport over the Stolichnaya name for a number of years

SPI Group has said it is disappointed after a Dutch court handed a Russian rival the rights to the Stolichnaya name across three countries.

Reuters reported yesterday that the Russian-government-owned Sojuzplodoimport, which is locked in a multi-country battle with SPI over the vodka brand, won an appeals court ruling that confirmed it should be awarded the rights to Stolichnaya in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Yesterday's ruling went further than a decision in 2015 that had allowed SPI to use the nickname "Stoli" in the countries, Reuters reported. That name will also now belong to Sojuzplodoimport.

The decision was a setback for SPI, which has been fighting over the Stolichnaya name ever since it bought the trademark, along with 42 other brands, from Soyuzplodoimport in 1997. In 2002, the Russian Federation regained the naming rights within its borders and in 2002 released Stolichnaya in Russia under its own label. 

In a statement yesterday, SPI said: "Unfortunately, the Dutch court did not use this opportunity to correct errors made previously by the lower court. SPI will continue to pursue all available legal remedies in the Netherlands, including the appeal of this decision to the Dutch Supreme Court."

The company said Stolichnaya has not been sold in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg - collectively known as the Benelux - since 2015.

Soyuzplodoimport claims SPI illegally bought the Stolichnaya rights at far below market value by taking advantage of the chaos of the Soviet Union's breakup. Legal battles over the name are ongoing in a number of courts. In one of the latest decisions, a federal appeal court in Brazil in November confirmed SPI's ownership, upholding a previous ruling in March 2016.

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CORRECTION: This article originally stated that SPI bought the Stolichnaya trademark, along with 42 other trademarks, from Soyuzplodoimport for US$300,000. just-drinks understands that this figure is disputed. According to SPI Group, the price was US$15m.

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