vodka trademark battles

from the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader:

The state-run Russian company that claims the rights to Stolichnaya vodkastolichnaya vodka bottle has targeted British spirits and wine group Allied Domecq in its fight to control the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales of the famed Russian vodka in the United States.

Soyuzplodoimport, which manages Stolichnaya and other vodka brands in Russia, alleges that Allied Domecq Plc stolichnaya propaganda vodka posterbroke the law when it signed a distribution deal with [Yury] Shefler in 2001. Soyuzplodoimport says Shefler's SPI Spirits Group held the rights to Stolichnaya illegally.

Lawyers for Soyuzplodoimport, an arm of the Agriculture Ministry, allege that Shefler forged and destroyed documents to buy Stolichnaya and other popular Soviet-era brands at a fraction of their value in a murky deal in the mid 1990s.

They say the brands' previous owner had been wrongly privatized and had no right to sell what Soyuzplodoimport general director Vladimir Loginov called "an important part of Russia's national heritage."