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Russian Government’s Claim To Stoli In The U.S. Rejected In Federal Court

August 7, 2013

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York affirmed the dismissal Monday of a lawsuit brought by the Russian government claiming trademark rights to the Stolichnaya brand in the U.S. Upholding a September 2011 ruling by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels, the Second Circuit found that the Russian state-owned company which filed the suit—Federal Treasury Enterprise Sojuzplodoimport (FTE)—did not have standing to sue on the Russian Federation’s behalf in the U.S.

Dating back to 2004, the lawsuit claimed that the current marketers of Stolichnaya in the U.S., Luxembourg-based SPI, improperly acquired the global trademark for the brand—which is now produced in Latvia—after the collapse of the Soviet Union. SPI has marketed Stolichnaya on a global basis ever since, with the Russian Federation owning the trademark within its own borders. The state-owned FTE says it will review the decision and consider other legal options.

Stolichnaya has found itself in the middle of a dispute between the LGBT community and the Russian government over the latter’s recent institution of a series of repressive anti-gay laws. Some in the LGBT community have responded by boycotting Stolichnaya and other vodkas of Russian heritage. In a recent interview with SND, however, SPI North America president John Esposito pointed out that Stoli has in fact been a leader in promoting equal LGBT rights for years, and is not affiliated with the Russian government.

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