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Russian vodka trademark officially protected

Moscow, 6 June: The Russian authorities have now deemed that "Russian Vodka" can only be labelled as such if it is distilled in the country itself and if it tastes like the genuine article.

The ruling was handed down by the Patents Office in response to a plea by the state-owned Soyuzplodoimport corporation [distinct from private Soyuzplodimport], which owns, on the state's behalf, the trademarks to popular vodka brands such as Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya, Russkaya and others.

Vladimir Uvatenko, Soyuzplodoimport's press spokesman, said this applied to exported vodka as well, irrespective of what language the label was written in.

Now, distillers have to be located in Russia to be entitled to label their products "Russian Vodka" or "Genuine Russian Vodka", Uvatenko said. In addition, the distiller has to obtain confirmation from the Agriculture Ministry that his vodka meets the necessary criteria, then permission from the patent office to label the vodka as having been produced in Russia.

This is seen to be part of an on-going bid by Soyuzplodoimport to reinstate the country's lawful rights to Russian vodka trademarks abroad. The owners of those trademarks and distributors will now have to remove wording like "Genuine Russian Vodka" from the labels of Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya and other brands that are not produced in Russia.

After all, other countries protect their own distillers or owners of trademarks to their national drinks. "Scotch Whisky" can only be produced in Scotland, for example, "Bourbon" in the United States, "Cognac" and "Champagne" in France and so on.

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