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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Firms Wrangle Over Trademark

ST. PETERSBURG -- The launch of a new brand of pelmeni by St. Petersburg food-processing company Darya has provoked its former partner Esna-TM to cry foul, alleging copyright infringement.

The Moscow-based Esna-TM claims that the new pelmeni, to be introduced and sold in 2000 under the brand name Pitersky Smak, uses the word Smak to which Esna holds the license. The company further alleges that use of the trademark will also allow Darya to capitalize on the repute of the television program Esna produces, which is also called Smak. The show is hosted by the well-known musician Andrei Makarevich.

"Darya wants to link its [new] products with Andrei Makarevich's name," Esna-TM development director Anatoly Kiriyenko was quoted as saying by business daily Vedomosti last week.

He added that Esna-TM will further question the registration of the name Pitersky Smak, Vedomosti reported.

Darya started producing pelmeni, or Russian-style ravioli, two years ago, and met with immediate success on a local market unaccustomed to brandname pelmeni. Riding on that wave of success, Darya, or Nika as it was then known, opened a second factory with an increased product line of up to 30 different sorts of frozen foods, which it began marketing under the premium label Darya.

The production capacity of Darya's new $4 million factory is 100 tons a day. Its first plant manufactures the company's mass market brands such as Smak and Pitersky Smak. Kiriyenko said the licensing agreement for the use of the name Smak was signed only with Nika. But Darya said that it has been using the brand for the past two years in its line of Smak pelmeni and that Esna-TM has no reason to attack the firm for its variation on the Smak label. The firm said that it was dissatisfied with Esna-TM's licensing policy, under which a myriad of producers have been given use of the trademark.

"The licensing agreement with Esna-TM [to use the Smak trademark] runs out in December and we are not going to prolong it. There is Smak mineral water, potato chips and sausages on the market, and no quality control over their producers," Darya advertising director Mikhail Gorbuntsov said.

"Consumers know our brand and our quality," he said.

He supported this claim by saying that the Darya factory will soon receive the international quality certificate ISO-9000 and will export its products to Europe and America.

Gorbuntsov said the previous conflict over use of the Smak label was when another food-processing firm introduced pelmeni under the same name on the market.

"Two similar products cannot exist under one trademark," Gorbuntsov said. "We do not need a scandal."

However, scandals seem to be Darya's favorite way to advertise their products. In October, the local department of the Antitrust Ministry ordered the company to remove posters picturing naked buttocks alongside the slogan, "Your favorite pelmeni," stating that it violated public morality. Darya removed the posters, but experts say the conflict only helped it to increase its name recognition.