8082 – Moscow on the Hudson


Do you like vodka and Russian vodka in particular? but what if your vodka looks like it comes from Russia and tastes like it comes from Russia, but it really comes from Brooklyn? This case, which makes you want to get a drink, started when Spirits International tried to register Moskovskaya as a trademark for its vodka. Although Moskovskaya is Russian for “of or from Moscos,” Spirits International admitted its vodka had no connection whatsoever with Moscow. The Patent and Trademark Office refused to register the mark deeming it geographically misdescriptive, and Trademark Trial and Appeals Board affirmed noting that a mark is misdescriptive if the relevant consuming public is misled. But Spirits International appealed, and the Court in a spirited decision reversed, stating that the mark should be denied only if a substantial portion of the consuming public understands Russian. So enjoy your vodka and as it is said in Brooklyn, “za vashe dorovye” which means, “see you under the table.”


In Re Spirits International NV, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 2008-1369, April 29, 2009, Dyk, J., USLW, Vol. 77, No. 43, Pg. 1690, 5-12-09, (prost, bottoms up, bottoms down)