Vodka name protected after Diageo win

Vodka has joined champagne, whisky and sherry as a drinks name protected by law.

Diageo, which makes the Smirnoff vodka brand, has won a High Court case against Intercontinental Brands over a vodka-based spirit brand, Vodkat.

It had argued that customers were being led to believe that the cheaper less alcoholic Vodkat drink was real vodka.

Mr Justice Arnold ruled that a brand name derived from the word vodka but not real vodka was likely to confuse consumers.

“I have no hesitation in concluding that the term vodka does have a reputation giving rise to a protectable goodwill,” he adds.

Paul Burton, director at InterContinental Brands, says it would wait until the details of the Court injunction are known before deciding whether to rebrand the drink.

However, he adds the ruling will not prevent the sale of the product “whatever the final form of the injunction”.

The ruling follows the case Diageo brought against Sainsbury’s over the supermarket’s gin-based cocktail drink, Pitchers.

The drinks firm had alleged the Pitchers drink was a trademark infringement on its Pimm’s brand.

The two reached an agreement in October with Sainsbury’s adapting the Pitchers label to feature more prominent Sainsbury’s branding and different colours.

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