Dec 29, 2008

Business - Russian champagne in brand name row

Tom Parfitt

MOSCOW: It’s sweet, it’s bubbly and it sells for less than £2 a bottle. Sovyetskoye Shampanskoye — “Soviet champagne” — may be sickly, poorly packaged and not a patch on Dom Perignon, but it has a place in every Russian’s heart.

Sold in supermarkets and corner stores across the country, this cheap sparkling wine is a must for any student party or birthday dinner. But now, just as Russians gear up for their most cherished drinking session, the New Year celebrations, a bitter row has broken out over the Sovyetskoye Shampanskoye brand name.

On Friday, five producers of the drink published an advertisement in a national newspaper accusing the State of trying to set up a monopoly on the name by passing distribution rights on it to a single company called Vineksim.

Alexander Razuvayev general director of Risp claimed that this was an attempt to corner the market on “Soviet” bubbly. “Since 2004 we have paid royalties to use the name Sovyetskoye Shampanskoye,” he said. “Now they want to take this historical brand away from us and give monopoly rights on its use to a business structure that is close to the State.”

Sovyetskoye Shampanskoye was first produced in 1928, using low-quality white wine . — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008

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