Soft drink trademark dispute must be heard in Russia, not in U.S.
MOSCOW, May 4 - RAPSI. Russian defendants in the litigation over soft drink trademarks believe that the dispute should be heard in Russia rather than in the United States, where U.S.-based Vosk International Co. (Vosk) is presently seeking to obtain the trademarks, according to the court documents made available to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI).
Vosk is seeking to register several trademarks. In its statement of claim, Vosk said it entered into a contract with the defendant Zao Ost Aqua in 2004 to manufacture and sell Dushesse, Extra-cider, and Estragon drinks to Vosk as per the company's specifications. Vosk asked the defendants to create the drinks without certain chemicals prohibited in the United States. Vosk also provided the defendants with English-language labels to use.
Dushesse, Extra-cider, and Estragon drinks are made by numerous manufacturers in Russia, which formulate the drinks according to recipes required by the Russian government and sell them under identical trademarks. Thus, no producers are able to claim trademark rights in Russia for these drinks. In this regard, Vosk filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register these trademarks.
However, Zao Gruppa Predpriyatiy OST and Zao OST Aqua challenged the registration, alleging prior use in the United States and the likelihood of confusion with its own trademarks. Vosk then filed a lawsuit against the Russian companies with the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington.
The Russian party maintains that Vosk is trying to "illegally obtain" rights to several popular trademarks in the United States. The defendants confirm that they entered in to a distribution contract with Vosk in March 2004, but say they cancelled it six months ago after the U.S. company violated its obligations. Furthermore, the defendants assert that all disputes should be addressed to the courts in Russia, not in the United States.
Zao Gruppa Predpriyatiy OST is a diversified holding comprising over 20 companies, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage producers, a brewery and associating enterprises.
According to the court documents, Zao Gruppa Predpriyatiy OST and Zao OST Aqua have been shut down and their assets, including rights to Dushesse and Extra-cider trademarks, have been transferred to Aqua-Life, registered in the Moscow region.