SPI Group hails ‘victory’ in Stoli trademark caseBy Nicola Carruthers
SPI Group has achieved a “significant legal victory” against a state-run Russian company over the continuous battle for the Stolichnaya vodka trademark in Australia and the US.
On Monday (20 November), the Federal Court of Australia ordered that Federal Treasury Enterprise Sojuzplodoimport’s (FKP) case against SPI is suspended until further notice.
The court said that the Russian Federation was the “real plaintiff” in the proceeding.
The Russian Federation has until the 30 November 2018 to produce documents that it “has been withholding for years”. SPI can then seek the formal dismissal of FKP’s claim. The court also ordered that FKP pay SPI’s legal costs.
It follows a 12-year-long dispute over who inherited the vodka brand when the Soviet Union collapsed – either the Russian Federation and FTE or the privatised “successor” to the Soviet firm that sold Stoli during the Cold War.
The case also follows the dispute in early November, where the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favour of SPI. The case is suspended for 45 days or until FKP completes production of documents from various agencies of the Russian Federation, whichever is longer.
The court ordered that nine categories of documents relevant to the parties’ dispute over the US Stolichnaya trademarks be produced from the Federal Agency for the Management of State Property; Rosalcohol; the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Property Relations of the Russian Federation; Rospatent; the Apparatus of the Russian Federation Government; and the Administration of the Russian Federation President.
The ruling marks a “significant victory” for SPI because the claims in relation to the US trademarks cannot be fairly adjudicated without discovery from the Russian Federation.
SPI Group “continues to expect positive results” because the plaintiffs’ claims in the long-standing dispute have no merit
Last month, SPI Group won a lawsuit in Brazil against FKP and three related parties, with the judge ruling 3-0 in favour of the vodka maker.