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5 May, 2009 07:56

Cristal Champagne vs. Christall Russian vodka

Cristal Champagne and a sister brand of Stolichnaya vodka are fighting for the use of a brand name on Russian soil.

And it looks as though the local tipple is winning, and a luxury bubbly may soon be forced under the table.

A State-owned Christall Vodka, a sister brand to the famous Stolichnaya, has taken Cristal the Champagne to court. The name they say is so similar to theirs, it may confuse the customer. Russian copyright watchdog Rospatent has ruled in favor of, you guessed it, vodka.

“Its impossible to confuse the two, the name may be similar, but these are two very different products. It's like comparing chocolate to Santa Claus,” bartender Vladimir Tashinov said.

Originally created for a Russian Tzar, Cristal Champagne with its signature see-through design, and a price tag of over $700 dollars, is now selling possibly its last stacks to Russia. The brand is half a century old, but it only got its license to sell here in 2006. Christall vodka secured its copyright some 30 years earlier, but sip on this: for now, it's not available in Russia.

“Two products cannot exist under one name, that is international law,” insists Soyuzplodimport representative Elena Kozik.

She added that that although Christall vodka is not sold in Russia itself, “we were here first, just like Cristal Champagne was first in France, where our vodka had lost its copyright battle to Cristal Champagne. Its not about revenge, they simply have to pay us a fee to keep on using our name here.”

The company that owns the champagne brand denied our request for comment, but they previously said they are planning to appeal the decision and maintain their presence in the country.

Cristal Champagne has become a favorite tipple for anyone with money to burn, from hip-hop stars to Russian oligarchs. In Russia it’s been selling off the shelves with 1000 bottles allowed per year.

To keep its Russian consumers, Cristal has two options: pay the fees, or change its name.