Stoli lawsuit heads to US Supreme Court

6th April, 2016 by Melita Kiely

A recently revived dispute regarding trademark rights to Stolichnaya Vodka is set to head to the US Supreme Court, according to documents filed on Monday.

Stolichnaya Vodka US Trademark Dispute

A trademark dispute over Stolichnaya Vodka is set to head to the US Supreme Court

SPI Group, which sells Stoli in the US, filed a request for a stay of the litigation pending a “planned petition for a writ of certiorari” following a Second Circuit ruling passed in January that a Russian state-owned firm had grounds to sue the brand in the US, reported Law360.

The lawsuit is part of a 12-year-long dispute over who inherited the vodka brand when the Soviet Union collapsed – the Russian Federation and FTE or the privatised “successor” to the Soviet firm that sold Stoli during the Cold War.

FTE took SPI Group and its US distributors to court in 2004, but a judge ruled in 2014 that the company lacked grounds to sue in a US court, and the Russian government’s transfer of the Stoli trademark rights to FTE was invalid under Russian law.

However, in January this year, the decision was overturned after a panel of Second Circuit judges said it wasn’t a decision that a US court could make thus reviving the lawsuit against SPI Group.

Monday’s papers did not indicate SPI’s strategy on how it would appeal to the high court. The Spirits Business has contacted SPI Group for a comment and is awaiting a response.

Following the decision to revive the lawsuit in January, SPI Group said it would “aggressively” defend its rights to the Stolichnaya Vodka trademark.

An official statement by the company read: “SPI Group, parent company of Stoli Group, is fully prepared to demonstrate our rightful and legal ownership of Stolichnaya and to put the dispute behind us.

“While SPI is disappointed with the Second Circuit’s decision regarding the jurisdiction of the US Federal Courts, it should be noted that several claims raised against SPI were dismissed.

“SPI has full confidence in the United States court system and believes that SPI will prevail in proving its legitimate rights.”

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