Close Menu

Stoli belongs to Russian state in Benelux, court rules

SPI Group has lost control of its Stolichnaya brand in the Benelux region after a Dutch court ruled it belonged to the Russian state.

Rotterdam’s District Court ruled on Wednesday that Spirits International, whose parent company is SPI Group, must hand the brand over to Russia’s state-owned Soyuzplodoimport within three months or face fines of 50,000 euros ($55,000) per day. It was also ordered to pay unspecified damages.

The case, which has been running since 2003, was based on whether rights to use the brands were properly acquired by Russian billionaire businessman Yuri Shefler in 1997 after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

SPI’s Moskovskaya vodka brand is also covered under the ruling, which extends only to Benelux countries.

SPI Group said it was “extremely disappointed” in the ruling adding that it firmly believes it is “not correct in light of the facts and the relevant law” and that it was examining all of its options with its lawyers.

“The ruling is only for the Benelux market and so the decision affects a very small part of our overall global marketplace”, it said. “SPI Group still owns the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya trademarks in over 190 countries across the world, but not in Russia. The Stolichnaya sold within Russia is a different vodka, owned by an unrelated state-controlled entity called FKP.

“The decision is the result of a long effort by the Russian government to confiscate the Stolichnaya trademarks, purchased legitimately by SPI from private shareholders and not from the state. The trouble between SPI and the Russian Federation started with an order from President Putin in 2000. Since that time, SPI has been in litigation all over the world to protect its claim.”

SPI added that while the decision was a “setback” for the company, it had had “recent successes in courts in other jurisdictions in respect of the same trademarks”, such as Chile, Austria and the United States.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No