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The Netherlands’ Supreme Court denied an appeal of Spirits International B.V. (affiliated with SPI Group) against a decision adjudging the exclusive right to Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya trademarks in Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) to a Russian Federal Owned company Sojuzplodoimport.

This ruling is a final act in a series of litigations that have been continued since 2006, when the District Court of Rotterdam decided that Spirits International B.V. had acquired its rights illegally, which decision was supported by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in 2012-2013. Subsequently, in 2015, Spirits International was obliged to return the exclusive rights to the trademarks in question and pay out the damages in amount of profits. The Court of Appeals upheld this decision in 2018.

Sojuzplodoimport is a legal successor of a Soviet company with the same name, which was established in 1966, and registered Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya trademarks in 1974. After the company was privatized, the disputed trademarks were purchased by SPI group in 1997-1998; this purchase, however, was deemed void by the Supreme Commercial Court of Russia in 2001.

Nevertheless, SPI currently holds the rights to other “Stolichnaya” and “Moskovskaya” national trademarks around the globe, despite several lawsuits filed. Being well-known brands for vodka, they possess very high commercial value, so one may be sure that further litigations concerning their ownership shall follow.

https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:PHR:2019:1065