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SPI Group 'extremely disappointed' by Dutch ruling returning Stolichnaya brand to Russia

Published:  27 March, 2015

Spirit International said it was "extremely disappointed" that a Dutch court has ordering the company to hand control of three vodka brands back to the Russia state-owned monopoly.

In an official statement, the SPI Group said it firmly believed the ruling was "not correct" in light of the facts and the relevant law. "We are examining all of our options with our lawyers and next steps," it said.

The three vodka brands affected are Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya and Na Zdorovye.

The Rotterdam's District Court handed down the ruling, stating that if the SPI Group doesn't hand over the Stolichnaya vodka brand along with the two other Russian brands to the Sojuzplodoimport within three months the company could face fines of up to €50,000 per day.

The ruling only affects the Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg (BeNeLux) and Russian markets, according to the release and SPI reiterated that it continues to have full control over the Stoli Group in over 190 countries.

It said: "The ruling is only for the BeNeLux market and so the decision affects a very small part of our overall global marketplace. SPI Group still owns the Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya trademarks in over 190 countries across the world, but not in Russia. The Stolichnaya sold within Russia is a different vodka, owned by an unrelated state-controlled entity called FKP."

The company has been in dispute with the Russian government since 2000, according to SPI. 

"The decision is the result of a long effort by the Russian government to confiscate the Stolichnaya trademarks, purchased legitimately by SPI from private shareholders and not from the state." it said. "The trouble between SPI and the Russian Federation started with an order from President Putin in 2000. Since that time, SPI has been in litigation all over the world to protect its claim."

The Stoli Group emphasised that despite the ruling against them in the Dutch courts, other international courts, including those in Chile, Austria and the United States, had ruled in their favour.