OGH renders final decision in Stolichnaya trademark dispute
Russia wins the legal dispute over the vodka trademarks Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya also in Austria
On February 21, 2020, the Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) rendered a final decision that the state-owned Russian company FKP Sojuzplodoimport is the owner of the Austrian vodka trademarks Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya. The OGH thus puts an end to a legal dispute between FKP and Spirits, a company of the SPI group of companies headed by Yuri Shefler, which has lasted for over sixteen years.
Spirits is therefore not allowed to use the vodka brands in Austria and is also obliged to pay compensation to FKP for decades of illegal brand use.
Christian Klausegger, partner at Binder Grösswang: "The Austrian courts did not take the easy way out and carefully examined the claims and the recognition of the decision of the Dutch Supreme Court. After more than sixteen years of litigation, it is now clear that in Austria, too, the rights to the traditional vodka brands belong to FKP".
Chronology of the dispute
In 2001, the Russian Federation found that the transfer of the vodka brands (including the Austrian brands Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya) to the SPI group was illegal.
In 2004, FKP filed a lawsuit with the Regional Court of Linz. In 2014 the Regional Court of Linz confirmed the illegality of the assignment and granted the trademarks to FKP.
Spirits has since fought this decision at the Higher Regional Court of Linz and the Supreme Court. With the present decision of the OGH, the last appeal against this decision by Spirits has been rejected.
The decision is a further success for FKP after the Dutch Supreme Court confirmed in January 2020 that the rights to the vodka brands also belong to FKP in the Benelux countries.
Binder Grösswang has represented FKP in the proceedings since 2004 under the leadership of partner Christian Klausegger and attorney Elisabeth Tretthahn-Wolski (both dispute resolution).