Thursday, August 8, 2013

US Court Rejects Stolichnaya Trademark Dispute

A US federal appeals court affirmed a lower court’s decision Monday dismissing a lawsuit disputing US-trademark rights to the Stolichnaya vodka brand for lack of standing. The appeal was filed by the government-chartered Russian entity Federal Treasury Enterprise Sojuzplodoimport (FTE) and its licensee OAO Moscow Distillery Cristall (Cristall) (appellants) against SPI Spirits Limited and a long list of “other related individuals and corporations” (appellees). The appellants claimed that the appellees had infringed certain Stolichnaya trademark rights in violation of US law. A lower federal district court dismissed the case for lack of standing to sue. On appeal, the court found that under US law, FTE is neither an assign nor a legal representative of the Russian Federation. In the words of the opinion, “Even accepting, based on the May 2011 letter… that the Russian Federation endorses FTE’s authority to bring this suit and is willing to be bound by this litigation – propositions that we have questioned – plaintiffs cannot… bypass the standing requirement… which permits only ‘registrants’ to bring actions for infringement of registered marks.”

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