Court battle for ‘Volodya and the Bears’ vodka brand to resume Monday

A court in Moscow will on Monday consider whether a decision to deny trademark registration to the “Volodya i Medvedi” (Volodya and the Bears) brand for bearing an allusion to Russian political leaders was lawful.

The Moscow Commercial Court ruled on September 12 that Russia’s patent agency, Rospatent, unlawfully denied registration for the “Volodya i Medvedi” trademark.

Volodya is the diminutive version of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s first name and President Dmitry Medvedev’s surname comes from the Russian world ‘medved’ meaning ‘bear.’ A bear is also the symbol of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

Rospatent rejected the registration request in October 2010 on the grounds that the brand’s allusion to the ruling party and the tandem is “detrimental to the image and interests of the state and contradictory to public interests.”

“The use of name and family name derivatives of people who represent the state, and interpretation of a political party symbol on the product… can be treated as being contemptuous to the authorities,” the agency said.

The “Volodya i Medvedi” vodka is currently sold in Russia under the trademark registered in Ukraine.

Retailers frequently use the names and images of famous political figures to promote alcoholic beverages. In 2003, Putinka vodka, named after Russia’s powerful then-president Vladimir Putin, was launched on the Russian market. A year later, Putinka became Russia’s best-selling vodka.

A Russian company that produces wine, vodka and liqueur under the Commendatore trademark, featuring Cuban Revolutionary leader Che Guevara, announced plans to produce and sell an alcoholic drink in Russia named after Libya’s late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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