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News Briefs for January 6, 2016

January 6, 2016

•A U.S. appeals court has ruled that a Russian state-owned company has standing to sue Stolichnaya’s U.S. marketers in federal court. Yesterday’s ruling, by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, clears the way for Russia’s government-controlled Federal Treasury Enterprise Sojuzplodoimport (FTE) and co-plaintiff OAO Moscow Distillery Cristall to continue their long-running legal battle over the U.S. trademark rights to Stoli. For well over a decade, the plaintiffs have accused SPI Group (owned by Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler) and the vodka brand’s U.S. marketers of misappropriating Stoli’s trademarks that the Russian government had assigned to FTE. The appeals court decision reversed a lower court ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because the assignment of the trademark rights was invalid under Russian law. Under pacts with SPI, Allied Domecq handled Stoli in the U.S. from 2001 to 2008, while William Grant & Sons had the brand from 2008 to 2014. Stoli is currently marketed in the U.S. by SPI-owned Stoli Group.

•Republic National Distributing Co.’s Texas unit saw wine sales crest the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2015. RNDC Texas posted 6% growth in wine volume for the year, to nearly 12.5 million cases. That performance capped a three-year period in which RNDC Texas’s wine volumes climbed 25%. Announcing the milestone, RNDC region president Jay Johnson said the Lonestar State’s wine division is well positioned for future growth and looking to raise the bar further in the year ahead. Including spirits, Shanken’s Impact Newsletter estimates RNDC Texas’s total revenue at $2.1 billion for 2015.

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