Producers Fight Over Chocolate Trademark
Published: September 5, 2012 (Issue # 1725)
MAXIM STULOV / VEDOMOSTI
The Alyonka brand is a battleground in a conflict between companies.
MOSCOW Ś Theáyoung girl onáthe wrapping ofáthe Alyonka chocolate bar may look timid andásweet, but toáRussian confectioners she is more dangerous than her namesake, Helen ofáTroy.
Theáfight foráAlyonka between confectioners ináthe two Russian capitals started when theáFederal Anti-Monopoly Service prohibited theáSt. Petersburg-based Krupskaya Factory fromáproducing Krupskaya Alyonka chocolate. Moscowĺs United Confectioners, which had patented theáSoviet Alyonka brand iná1999, had complained that theáproductsĺ wrappers were too similar.
But now Krupskaya is striking back byáproducing theáMechta Alyonki (Alyonkaĺs Dream) chocolate bar. Theáconfectioner, which is owned byáOrkla Brands Russia, has also filed aánotice with theáFederal Service foráIntellectual Property toáget rights toáproduce other sweets under theáMechta Alyonki brand, Marker.ru reported, citing Olga Agafonova, aáspokeswoman foráOrkla Brands.
Representatives ofáOrkla Brands Russia andáKrupskaya Factory could not be reached toáconfirm these plans.
TheáMechta Alyonki brand was registered byáAzart, anáOrkla subsidiary, iná2003. Sergei Lapin, aápartner atáNadmitov, Ivanov & Partners law firm, said that Krupskayaĺs use ofáthe brand would not be ináviolation ofáthe antitrust ruling, but he added that officials could still decide whether this form ofáthe name is acceptable.
Theábattle foráSoviet brands is gaining more momentum now, with companies also squaring off toáget rights toáold alcohol brands, as well as theáfamous Vologda butter.
Russiaĺs entry intoáthe World Trade Organization has given local companies new mechanisms forágetting andáprotecting intellectual property rights, which is helping toáfuel theáfight.
ôNow theálaw allows you toáfight foráSoviet brands andágives you aásufficiently effective arsenal, which was not theácase ináthe Soviet period,ö Lapin said. ôSo yes, it will become more important toáregister one or another trademark foráyourself toáensure priority use and, if need be, use this trademark toábattle theácompetition.ö
But some experts question theávalue ofáthis struggle. Andrei Stas, founder ofáStas Marketing, said that it is not beneficial forácompanies toáhave Soviet brands anymore because theáyounger generations are not loyal toáthem.
ôTheir time has passed,ö he said. ôThe generation that grew up onáthese brands is getting old, andáthe youth are not interested.ö
However, Stas expects that theábattle foráSoviet brands may still continue foráyears, inápart because companies want toácapitalize onáthe society-wide nostalgia foráold times. Zhiguli beer andáYantar andáDruzhba processed cheeses are some ofáthe Soviet brands that are still thriving onáthis nostalgia.
ôAs long as those who ate these products ináSoviet times are alive, theábattles will continue,ö Stas said.