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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Starbucks Gets Back Its Brand

Starbucks has regained the right to use its brand on coffee houses in Russia after a protracted legal battle with a trademark squatter who was asking $600,000 for the logo, the intellectual property agency said Thursday.

The decision late Wednesday by the agency, Rospatent, paves the way for the U.S. company to open coffee houses in Russia. A lawyer for OOO Starbucks, the Russian company that had held the trademark rights, said he would appeal.

There are no branded Starbucks coffee shops in Moscow, although the coffee can be found in a basement cafe in one of the city's hotels. The high-profile case has been seen as a litmus test of Russia's commitment to tackling rampant intellectual property abuses.

U.S. concerns over its record on music and video piracy, as well as trademark and patent violations, have overshadowed talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization.

OOO Starbucks lawyer Sergei Zuikov said he was confident of winning an appeal. Zuikov had the U.S. company's Starbucks trademark annulled in Russia in 2002, arguing that the Seattle-based company, which registered its name in 1997, had left the brand to grow moss. "They weren't doing anything with it, and it was transferred to us," he said.

In Russia, the business of registering trademarks and selling them back to their true owners is widely practiced. Zuikov said he offered Starbucks the logo for $600,000 in August, but denied that his sole aim was to sell the brand.