Breaking news: Vodkat appeal dismissed

In a super judgment in January, noted by the IPKat here, Mr Justice Arnold (Chancery Division, England and Wales) held in Diageo v Intercontinental Brands that the sale of a product under the name VODKAT was a form of "extended passing off" which makers of genuine vodka were entitled to prevent. This morning the Court of Appeal (Lords Justices Rix and Patten and Mr Justice Peter Smith) dismissed the appeal.

Intercontinental Brands had argued that only products which have a cachet should be protectable and that vodka, being a generic term, did not possess such a cachet. In its decision -- largely given by Patten LJ with a little augmentation from Rix LJ -- the Court reaffirmed that cachet is not a legal requirement and therefore dismissed the appeal, refusing permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The injunction prohibiting Intercontinental Brands from continuing to sell its VODKAT non-vodka product will not come into force until such time as any application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal has been dealt with.

The judgment (77 paragraphs) is not yet on BAILII, but you can read it in full here.

STOP PRESS: the judgment is now available on BAILII, here.
Breaking news: Vodkat appeal dismissed Breaking news: Vodkat appeal dismissed Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, July 30, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Vodka is as generic a word as you can get, being a slavic diminutive of "voda", water. It covers just about any alcohol starting with methanol-laced samogon (moonshine).

    Jeremy, could you convert the document into a PDF, so that more people could read it without having to download some viewer utility? (I don't have Word). I'd be interested to see why as many as 77 paragraphs are necessary to dismiss what appears to me to be an open-and-shut case.

  2. And the program to convert .doc to .pdf is called doPDF, free to download.
    @Anonymous: there are some technical restrictions - a manufacturer may not that easily name samogon (moonshine) a vodka. The standard Russian, Lithuanian, and Polish vodkas are 40 percent alcohol by volume, in samogon (like with whiskey - which is a sort of samogon), - much more.

  3. Why stop there?

    LIMITED not passing itself off as being connected to Intercontinental Hotels?

    Will litigious Nestle soon come after IPKat based upon its KitKAT candy?

    Shades of Advokaat all over again...

  4. OK, I see, the alcohol content is the issue. So what's next? The holders of the "water" brand are gonna sue the makers of "eau de Cologne"... A few days ago a Scottish brewer pulled a stunt by putting out a beer with 55% alcohol packaged in a dead squirrel. Does this still qualify as beer? Or scotch?

  5. LJ Rix's concerns about the implications of this judgment mean the decision should be looked at by the Supreme Court. I hope ICB apply for leave to appeal.

  6. @Anonymous (as #4 from top): not the alco content - the technology. Not mere "admixing" vodka to water thus receiving Vodkat! :-D See the real vodka here (not a commercial) As to the "beer" with 55%.... you'd better ask what they'd put in there!
    @IPKat: thank you for the best IP post in a week time, you've made the Friday! :)


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