“Vodka” trademark claimed by Russia

In line with the international practice of protecting terms such as ‘Scotch whisky’, ‘Champagne’ and ‘Parma ham’, the Russia’s patent office has ruled that the term “Russian vodka” can be applied only to vodka produced according to established criteria within the boundaries of Russia itself.

Linking of the words “Russia” and “vodka” are in people’s minds in the same way as “horse and cart” or “bread and butter”, has led certain producers of the clear, powerful liquid to use the term “Russian vodka” to describe something made a long way from the country’s borders.

The legal process to be followed if the Russians want to protect their trademark worldwide is very long.  A detailed application will have to be filed in the patent office of every country where they believe the non-genuine article might be produced.

The application for ‘Russian vodka’ is most likely to be regarded as a geographical appellation.  This is reason why only the sparkling white wine from the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne.

This is also the reason why the Parma ham producers from the Po valley in Italy recently won a case whereby only the ham produced, cured and sliced in their region can bear the name of Parma ham.  Parma ham producers had recently won a court case to protect their trademark.

There are also some unusual ways to overcome these regulations.

The name of a village in Japan was changed to Scotland so that it could be labelled in the whisky produced there as “Made in Scotland”.  But one sip would all be needed for a discerning whisky drinker to make out the difference between the two.

Trademark Registration in Japan

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