Diageo wins landmark vodka case
Published:  20 January, 2010

Diageo has won a landmark case against Vodkat and secured the protection of the vodka category.

Vodkat has been available only at 22% alcohol by volume. Drinks giant Diageo launched the case against Vodkat in order to secure protection for legitimate vodka products and to ensure there was a clear legal position for consumers.

A statement from Diageo said: “ ‘Vodka’ has been found to be a protectable category under the law of passing off and all variants of Vodkat (old design, new design and all line extensions) have been found to be passing off. Intercontinental Brands will no longer be allowed to sell Vodkat or any of its line extensions and the judgement also condemns various other vodka lookalikes (such as Vodkova and Tolstoy of Halewood, and Imperial Volachka of Manchester Drinks Company Limited).  We therefore hope we will be able to persuade the manufacturers of these other vodka lookalike products to drop them without too much of a fight.”

The judge’s statement said “vodka was generally perceived by consumers to be a clear, tasteless, distilled high strength spirit” and that “an important aspect of the reputation of vodka [is that] it can alcoholically enhance any chosen mixer without detracting from the taste of the mixer”. He concluded that “the term ‘vodka’ does have a reputation giving rise to a protectable goodwill”.

The Gin and Vodka Association has welcomed the decision. Edwin Atkinson, director general of the Gin and Vodka Association said: “We welcome the decision on the case concerning Vodkat. The Judge’s statement speaks for itself regarding the protection of the vodka category."

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