Russian soft drink brand owner wants to take part in trial in US
MOSCOW, September 14 - RAPSI. Russia's Aqua-Life company has submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington an appeal to be attracted as a defendant to the local Vosk International Co.'s lawsuit disputing the rights to the Dushesse, Tarhun and Extra-Cider beverage brands, according to materials made available to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com).
Initially, the lawsuit was submitted against the OST and OST Aqua enterprises, which owned the brands when Vosk International Co. decided to register them on its behalf in the United States. However, OST and OST-Aqua were shut down and the rights to the brands were then transferred to Aqua-Life, which is registered in Chernogolovka outside Moscow. Aqua-Life has asked the court to be admitted to the trial as the actual owner of the trademarks in dispute.
According to the statement of claim, the company agreed with OST and its subsidiary OST-Aqua in 2004 to sell the non-alcohol beverages in the United States. Russia had to change the original recipes, and to remove ingredients banned in the United States. The products were to be supplied with English labels, which were to be passed for use from the United States to the Russian firms.
Dushesse, Extra-Cider, and Estragon are made by numerous manufacturers in Russia that make the drinks according to government-approved recipes. They are sold under identical trademarks. No producers are able to claim trademark rights in Russia for these beverages. Vosk filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the trademarks.
However, OST and 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" the rights to several popular trademarks in the United States. The defendants confirm that they entered into a distribution contract with Vosk in March 2004, but say that they canceled it six months ago after the U.S. company violated its obligations. Furthermore, the defendants assert that all the disputes should be addressed to courts in Russia, not in the United States.