Aqua-Life intervenes in international software trademark case
MOSCOW, October 26 - RAPSI. A US federal court granted Aqua-Life’s motion to intervene in the trademark case that American beverage company Vosk International (Vosk) brought against predecessors-in-interest in an effort to lay claim to the international trademarks associated with three popular drinks.
The case was initially brought by Vosk, a Washington state general partnership that has been in the business of marketing, distributing, and selling beverages in the US since 1997, against defendant Russian companies Zao Gruppa Predpriyatij Ost (Zao Gruppa) and Zao Ost Aqua (Zao Aqua).
According to an earlier order issued in the same case, the former owns the latter. Both were in the business of manufacturing, bottling, and selling non-alcoholic beverages in Russia.
In March 2004, Zao Aqua agreed to sell three beverages – “Duchess, extra-cider, and estragon” – to Vosk. The contract stipulated that Zao Aqua would alter its formula to suit Vosk’s needs, and would use stylized English-language labels created by Vosk. Vosk began importing and selling the beverages that summer.
In September 2004, Vosk filed international trademarks applications with the US Patent and Trade Office, seeking to register the names (specifically: “KCTPA-CNTP EXTRA-CIDER,” “TAPXYH ESTRAGON,” and “DIOWEC DUSHESS,”) and labels of these three beverages. Based on their own trademarks, Zao Gruppa and Zao Aqua opposed the patent office’s decision to grant these international trademarks.
In April 2010, Zao Gruppa and Zao Aqua transferred their rights in the trademarks at issue to Aqua-Life, is a Russian company that, like the defendants, manufactures, bottles, and sells soft beverages.
For purposes of this lawsuit, Zao Gruppa and Zao Aqua initially endeavored to substitute Aqua-Life as their successor-in-interest in the case. The court suggested that Aqua-Life might benefit from complying with procedure and filing a proper motion to intervene.
In granting Aqua-Life’s motion, the court established that it had successfully met the four requirements for intervention: “(1) the intervention application is timely; (2) the applicant has a significant protectable interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject
of the action; (3) the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede the applicant’s ability to protect its interest; and (4) the existing parties may not adequately represent the applicant’s interest.”
While Vosk had not disputed the latter three elements, it argued that Aqua-Life had failed to timely file for intervention. The court disagreed, however, noting that proceedings were still in the discovery stage and Vosk had failed to identify any means by which the timing of Aqua-Life’s intervention might prejudice the proceedings. Furthermore, Aqua-Life moved for intervention shortly after the court suggested it do so. Thus, the court held that Aqua-Life had satisfied the elements for intervention, and granted its motion.
Vosk had additionally sought to reinstate an earlier default judgment due to the fact that the original defendants had ceased to maintain an interest in the trademarks at issue. The court denied this motion based on the fact that US law stipulates only that Vosk should file its claim ““Against the party in interest as shown by the records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office at the time of the decision complained of to initiate its appeal.” The court pointed out as well that Vosk’s concerns in this regard became irrelevant when Aqua-Life moved to intervene.