Russian Company Yield Misappropriated Wine Brands
02 February, 2012
Russian Company Yield Misappropriated Wine Brands

Georgian wine brands Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara, misappropriated by Russian ‘Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH’ registered and operating in Germany over the years, were regained by Georgia.

The lawsuit of Georgian official trademark body Sakpatenti with the Russian company ‘Moscow Wines & Spirits GMBH’ over famous Georgian wine brands, misappropriation in Germany has been settled in favor of Georgia, Irakli Gvaladze, Head of Sakpatenti, announced on January 26, 2012. 
This is the second case when Georgia regained its wine

trademarks. In 2011 Sakpatenti also managed to regain Kvanchkara and Kindzmarauli, which ‘belonged’ to an American company ‘Dozortsev & Sons’ founded by Russian businessmen. It was delivering Georgian wines to the US market since 1990s.  President of ‘Dozortsev & Sons’ Evgeny Dozortsev asserted that registering the names was the sole way to protect Georgia’s wines from counterfeit duplication.
If Dozortsev & Sons used to distribute genuine Georgian wines and it still goes ahead with the business,  nobody has seen a single bottle of Tsinandali, Khvanchkara or Kindzmarauli either bottled or delivered by ‘Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH’ to the supermarkets in Germany. Sakpatenti failed to find out what exactly the company has been doing with the misappropriated brands. Ghvaladze does not rule out falsification.
According to him, in 2011 Sakpatenti learned that the appellations of origins of Georgian wines Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara were registered at the German Patent and Trademark Office in 2001 in the name of the company Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH founded by Russian businessmen in Germany.  The misappropriation case was revealed as a result of monitoring started by EU in 2010 in frames of the agreement between Georgia and EU on protection/certification of Georgian geographic marks of food and agriculture product. The agreement includes 18 appellations of origins of Georgian wines [including the disputed Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara] that must be protected in the EU and the list will be enlarged gradually. After ratification in Georgia the paper was sent to the EU for further ratification with all the EU member-states and the monitoring of Georgian wine brands launched immediately.
“As a result of this monitoring German Trademark office found out that the Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH founded by entrepreneurs of Russian origins in Germany registered our wine brands on their name in 2001,” Ghvaladze said in the interview with Georgian Journal.
Actually Sakptenti was aware of the fact in 2010 but it could not reclaim Georgian wine brands for the registration validity expired only in 2011.
And as soon as the registration expired Sakpatenti hired a German law firm, through which appealed to the German Patent and Trademark Office and requested to cancel the registration.  It was explained in the complaint that Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara are registered appellations of origin of Georgian wines, which are the property of the state of Georgia and their registration as trademarks by any foreign company is impermissible.
In parallel, through German lawyers, Sakpatenti began to negotiate with lawyers of the company Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH in order that the company unconditionally, without a dispute, abolishes the Georgian appellations registered in its name.
Taking into account the well-grounded argumentation presented by the Georgian party, the company Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH did not continue the registration procedure of Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara that might lead to court as Georgian side was determined to fight back its national treasury. While registration of Georgian wine trademarks on the name of Russian company looked quite dubious and court might disclose confidential details.
“We could not trail down the company what exactly they were producing. At least for the last 3 years nobody has ever seen a bottle produced by Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH. I know for sure that unlike Dozortsev who distributes a high quality true Georgian wine taken from Georgia this Moscow Wines & Spirits Company GMBH does not get wine from Georgia. However since they had legal right on Georgian wine appellations of origins they might bottle anything even a lemonade and tag by Tsinanadali and Khvanchkara. German side also could not provide by details what this company does in fact,” Ghvaladze elaborated.
He doubts that the questioned company registered Georgian wine trademarks in Germany to sell them out perhaps and get a commercial benefit ultimately.
“They were reluctant to yield trademarks initially but then realized that in this case we would have settled the matter through court that would require more in-depth research of their business and decided to give up,” Ghvaladze said.
Accordingly, the German Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the questioned registration and this decision has already been reflected in its Official Register.
Tsinandali, Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara are the most frequently misused Georgian wines falsified specifically in the post-soviet space [or by people of post-soviet origins in other countries] for their fame and taste is familiar in this part of the world.
Agreement on protection of Georgian trademarks in the EU has already been ratified by all the EU states and is supposed to enter officially into effect this year. And cheese will probably be the second product that will be enlisted soon in this agreement next to wines.

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