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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baltika Cigarettes Stubbed Out

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After five months of legal wrangling, a Moscow court Tuesday finally bottled up a local tobacco company's bid to sell cigarettes under the name and logo of top brewery Baltika.

Last October the first load of Baltika No. 3 and Baltika No. 9 cigarettes that were manufactured by Moscow region-based Meta-Tabak went on sale in St. Petersburg, where the beer giant is based. The design of the packs was virtually identical to that of the beer label: similar script, three waves and a crown.

The brewery, which had already registered its trademark for several types of goods, including tobacco products, wasted no time taking Meta-Tabak to court. As soon as the claim was filed with the Moscow region arbitration court the tobacco plant stopped making the cigarettes. Only 10,000 cartons went into circulation as a result.

The case dragged on while an expert examination of the trademarks was carried out at the court's request by the Federal Institute of Industrial Property.

Baltika lawyer Vadim Uskov, said that "the court ruled that the logos were similar to the point of confusion."

On Tuesday, the court not only banned Meta-Tabak from producing the cigarettes, it also ordered it to purchase ads in local media outlets saying so.

The court ordered Meta-Tabak to pay for ads in three newspapers — the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Komsomolskaya Pravda and Izvestia. It also ordered it to do the same on state-owned television channels RTR and ORT.

Baltika also won the second part of its claim concerning unprincipled competition.

"Imitating the Baltika label is already a violation of the laws on advertising and competition. Even if the trademark had not been registered, Meta-Tabak's actions have all the elements of unscrupulous competition," Uskov said.

Meta-Tabak said it would appeal the ruling.

Grigory Israelyan, general director of Soyuzkontrakt Tabak, Meta-Tabak's parent company, said the only claim made by Baltika that the court took into consideration was the crown shown on the pack.

"We are prepared to remove or change this element in the design of the cigarettes," he said.

Israelyan claimed that his company's lawyers managed to show that the key elements of the design — the word Baltika and the three waves — were not registered. He refused to elaborate, saying that neither side had received the full text of the court decision.