Federation of Russia: the registration of trademark for alcoholic beverages is not a plain sailing

The Russian company Royalty was willing to register the trademark « Volodya i Medvedi » for alcoholic beverages, juices and sparkling waters. However, this registration was not a plain sailing as the Rospatent, the Russian trademark and patents Office did not give its endorsement to such a registration. The meaning of the trademark was far too controversial for the Rospatent. Actually, the trademark was a combo of the nickname of Vladimir, which is Volodya, and the nickname of Dimitry Medvedev, Medvedi. The word medvedi also happens to be the root of the Russian word bear. The bear being the symbol of the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party of the former President Vladimir Putin. The 10th of October 2011, the Rospatent refused to register the said trademark as it said bluntly the trademark was derogatory and was going against the state and the public interest. The Company Royalty decided to lodge an appeal against the decision before the Commercial Court of Moscow which gave its endorsement to the beverages company. Royalty argued that the trademark “Volodya I Medvedi” was inspired of the most widespread male name in Russia and of fairy tales. According to the Commercial Court, the decision of refusal issued by the Rospatent was illegal. The Russian trademarks Office made an appeal of the decision which was issued on the 12th of September 2011.

Vodka bearing the trademark “Volodya and the bears” is available on the Russian market and is marketed by a Ukrainian Company which happens to be a competitor of Royalty, namely Vineksim. The aforementioned Ukrainian company obtained successfully the registration of the trademark before the Ukrainian trademark Office. In a near future we can guess that Royalty will bring a lawsuit before the Court in order to obtain damages as this registration is highly detrimental for the beverages company. In 2003, a vodka trademark “Putinkavodka” was registered and in less than one year became the vodka number one sold in the Russian Federation.

In the Russian Federation, the registrations of alcoholic beverages which conjure up political characters are legion. Recently, the Alexandrovy Pogreba Company filed a trademark on the name of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi  before the Rospatent. The said Company has already registered the trademark Commandatore for beverages which reproduces a picture of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara.