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April 14, 2003

UK: Court backs Diageo in Smirnoff dispute

Diageo, last week, successfully defeated an attempt to contest its right to the Smirnoff vodka trademark in the UK.

Diageo, last week, successfully defeated an attempt to contest its right to the Smirnoff vodka trademark in the UK.


The UK High Court dismissed a claim as “hopeless” by a Russian trading house once run by Boris Smirnov who claimed to be a descendent of the 19th century vodka distiller, Piotr Smirnov.


The court rejected the Russian company’s claim that Diageo’s Smirnoff trademarks deceptively implied Russian origin and manufacture of the product. Those claims already had been rejected by the UK Trademark Registry.


The Russians had wanted to register a trademark bearing the word Smirnoff in Russian Cyrillic script.


In a statemen,t Diageo said it was continuing to build the Smirnoff brand very successfully in markets around the world. It said that its Smirnoff trademark rights also have been upheld against similar challenges by the same Russian company in many trademark offices and courts around the world.

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