Russian State Reclaims Ownership of Stolichnaya Vodka Brand

28 July 2003

The World Intellectual Property Organization has recognized Soyuzplodoimport, a state-owned Russian company, as the lawful owner of global brand Stolichnaya, Plus a string of other vodka trademarks and – down, you oenophiles! – Soviet Sparkling Wine.

Ownership of the brands has been hotly disputed since the privatization free-for-all of the early 90s when state assets, including some of its best known brands, were auctioned for a fragment of their real value. Among these were the Stolichnaya brand and forty-two others which were knocked down to SPI Group for 1.7 million roubles – around $300,000 (€333,277; £198,000) at the exchange rates of that time.

However, Russia’s Supreme Arbitration Court ruled in October of 2001 that the disposal of the brands was improper given that Soyuzplodoimport had been illegally restructured – thereby invalidating its right to sell the trademarks to SPI.

The latter robustly resisted this ruling – a battle it finally lost on Thursday when WIPO, the intellectual property and trademark agency of the United Nations, recognized Soyuzplodoimport as the brands’ rightful owner. It plans to begin exports to a number of countries very shortly.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff