STOLICHNAYA trademark: There’s good news and bad news.
The statutory copyright damages awards merry-go-round Thomas-Rasset circus is not the only case that seems to be stuck in an infinitely-recurring loop. As Pamela Chestek explains, “the STOLICHNAYA case [has] end[ed] again.”
The bad news is it’s not so clear just what kind of mash the Southern District of New York has distilled here, according to Pamela:
I am utterly confused by this decision. First, I don’t understand why the court entertained a § 32 argument any further than [plaintiff] “FTE isn’t a registrant.” I couldn’t find any application or registration owned by FTE or Russia, so I’m not sure why, even assuming FTE was the Russian Federation’s agent or assignee, either would have had standing as “registrant” under § 32.
Second, why is there no argument under § 43(a)? As explained in this post, one doesn’t have to be a trademark owner to bring a claim under § 43(a), just “likely to be damaged.” But there was no § 43(a) count. Perhaps it was because FTE isn’t actually selling anything in the U.S., so FTE had no claim that SPI’s use was likely to cause confusion with FTE’s (non-existent) use.
Finally, is this a Lanham Act case at all? There’s no mention of how SPI came to own the trademark registrations for STOLICHNAYA in the decision, but the Third Amended Complaint tells quite a story about what the plaintiff claims is the theft of the mark in Russia and efforts to recapture it. Is this really a claim for fraud, to void a contract, or for enforcement of a Russian or Dutch judgment, rather than for trademark infringement?
In Communist Paradise, we just lifted our glasses and drank, nyet? Show trials are so much more convenient, and no questions afterward! In contrast, trademark things like recent EU decision on hammer and sickle trademark merely make a comrade miss mandatory reeducation …