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"Birdie" sorry

In Primorye, the confectionery war for Soviet brands ends

"Birdie" sorry

The United Confectioners holding, a member of the Guta group, dragged Primorskiy Konditer in court for the illegal use of Soviet candy brands, putting the largest confectionery factory in the Far East on the brink of bankruptcy. As a result of an ornate strategy of war and peace, a group of metropolitan producers is going to establish a joint production of "Bird's Milk" with Primorye and get a unique technology for making sweets. In the future, this may lead to the release of the beloved "Bird" from Vladivostok and the final monopolization of the confectionery market. - more about the problem.

Divide and Conquer

It all started in the middle of the 1990-ies, when the Moscow factories just went to Rospatent, applied for and registered Soviet names. Then no one even considered the issue of unfair competition, the monopolization of the market, the prescription of names. At the same time, regional factories were promised free use of Soviet brands, and assurances were given that brands register on the "Roth Front" and "Red October", so that a formal rightholder protecting trademarks ("Bird's Milk", "Swallow", " Vasilek "," Camomile "and others).

At that time there were no norms that would govern these processes. But when the fourth part of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation was adopted, which came into force on 1 January 2008, there were opportunities to collect compensation for the illegal use of trademarks in double size. Three years ago, the "Roth Front", "Red October" and "Confectionery Concern Babaevsky", gathered in the holding company "United Confectioners", apparently decided to earn on an equal footing. A flurry of claims to regional factories went off.

Over the past three years, the United Confectioners Holding filed about 100 suits in the amount of almost 3 billion rubles. Against other players in the confectionery market, including those who used Soviet brands for decades in the production of confectionery products, including the Krupskaya factory - 750 million rubles, the Primorye confectioner - 360 million rubles, the Lipetsk confectionery factory - 220 million rubles. The amount of collected money, of course, was less, but close to the claimed.

Factories in the regions were in a stupor. They faced a dilemma: either completely change the names and labels of products, or continue to pay compensation. Most of the regionals decided to pay and no longer use Soviet brands. The creation of various associations between the Regions for some reason did not help defend the right to use Soviet marks.

"Primorsky confectioner" chose a compromise option. Gradually renamed the product, so that the consumer managed to get used to, and the factory simply did not go bankrupt because of the losses associated with the lack of sales. At the same time, the enterprise received new claims for trademarks that were similar to the degree of confusion.

“We renamed gradually. First, "Swallow" in "Seaside Lastochku". Primorsk "Lastionka" is a brand similar to the confusion with the name "Swallow". Now “Swallow” is called “Svetlanskaya” - no one will stick to it, ”recalls Oleg Karkov, a lawyer who has worked with Primorsky Pastry Chef since 2012, following claims from United Confectioners. - The decrease in the company's revenue only due to the forced renaming of products amounted to 300 million rubles.

In Moscow courts and Rospatent to seek the truth, confectioners from Primorye did not: the bitter experience prompted in advance who will be supported by the capital's judges and officials.

It's interesting that after the Primorsky confectioner renamed all the products, in supermarkets, which was not the case before, there appeared a lot of advertising stands of the companies "Rot Front" and "Red October". The money received from seaside entrepreneurs, according to Apparently, they went to the development of United Confectioners brands in the Far East.

The Trick-22

With the use of Soviet brands, a situation has arisen that excludes itself and from which there is no way out. The whole absurdity is that the Soviet confectionery brands are associated by the consumer with a very high quality, time-tested. However, the factories of the United Confectioners LLC are currently not bound by any obligations to follow traditional recipes and GOSTs. Moreover, today inside the well-known labels contains products that are as cheap as possible, because the trouble of all large companies is that they are forced to make mass products cheap. It turns out that the consumer is essentially misleading, since only the name and label itself is saved. The products of Primorsky Pastry Shop, on the contrary, are manufactured according to GOST standards, but the enterprise is deprived of the right to use trademarks corresponding to the content of products.

The Primorsky confectioner tried to break this dead logic loop. The public has become the main instrument of struggle against the monopolist. And thanks to the initiative of the governor Vladimir Miklushevsky, the vice-governor Tatyana Zabolotnaya and the deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Krai Valery Kahn, the bill "On Amending Article 1484 Part Four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation" was born. Its essence is that if the factory produced the products under the Soviet trademark before the year 1992, it has the right to continue the release of this product on the conditions of a simple non-exclusive, royalty-free license.

This bill hovered in the State Duma, apparently, with some participation of the "United Confectioners". And only thanks to the assistance of the regional administration 26 June this year, concluded peace agreements that relate only to existing and completed court cases. As a result, "Primorsky confectioner" pays instead of 14 million rubles only 6,6 million. Such an agreement was reached by the desire to stop confrontation on the part of the "United Confectioners" with the direct participation of the Vice-Governor of Primorye, Sergei Sidorenko, who called on both sides to reach a consensus on the use of trademarks for confectionery products.

During the trilateral meeting organized by Sergey Sidorenko with representatives of the United Confectioners and Primorsky Confectioner companies, Mikhail Mikhaylov, senior vice president of the Guta Group Management Company, said that he was ready to resolve all disputed issues promptly.

So, the "United Confectioners" have a desire to end the existing conflict. And this desire is understandable - Primorsky confectioner was left alone, other factories have long ceased fighting, not standing alone against the giant. And if the "Primorye confectioner" reconciles with the "United Pastry", as it happened for all, then the market leaders can report "on top", that everyone is happy, the world is concluded with all the factories, and therefore the bill "On Amending the Article 1484 part four of the Civil Code "take no need.

The war is over. Long live the war!

But peace agreements by the world, apparently, are not. The next step, which is now being discussed, is the integration of the Mouth Front, which is part of the United Confectioners holding, with the Primorsky Confectioner. The meaning of this integration is to establish a joint release of sweets under the new brand “Bird's Milk Premium” (now Primorsky Pastryr produces these candies under its own Primorsky brand). It is planned to produce the beloved sweets of the highest quality under the new name using the production capacity of the Primorsky Pastry Chef.

An important detail of the planned transaction is the registration of a new trademark and the issuance of a license specifically for Bird's Milk Premium, and not the classic Bird's Milk assigned to United Confectioners. The idea is not bad, but the license will end someday (the maximum license period cannot exceed 10 years). The unique production technology will remain with United Confectioners, and at the same time, friendship with Primorsky Confectioner may end. But there will be a consumer of the newly promoted candy brand, under which “United Confectioners” sweets will be able to produce independently.

Only now the quality of such sweets will not be the same. It is easy to be convinced of this by trying the “Bird's milk” of the Amur factory “Zeya”, which belongs to the same “United Confectioners”. The question immediately arises why the confectionery holding does not develop its enterprise in Blagoveshchensk, but decided to create a new production in Vladivostok? Perhaps “United Confectioners” really believe that Primorye “Bird's Milk” is the best in the country and it’s profitable to develop cooperation with a seaside manufacturer. Surely it was not possible to find out, the United Confectioners holding declined to comment.

By the way, for Primorsky Territory such a joint venture would be a profitable acquisition. Investments in the economy of the region and new jobs are not superfluous.

Only competition will save

In conditions when it is most likely that it will not be possible to return the free use of Soviet brands, it is possible to avoid a drop in the quality of confectionery products only by maintaining competition within each region. Regional factories will be able to restore the market and learn to compete with major manufacturers, developing their own brands, which may be associated with the Soviet ones, but will not raise questions from the legitimate right holders.

"Seaside confectioner" goes in this direction, but in its own way, creating unique brands with a territorial component, so that the consumer, who is often loyal to the local producer, was easier to navigate. A vivid example of such branding can be called a series of chocolate "ShikoVlad" with sea salt, sea cabbage, as well as tiles with the name of the islands located in the Gulf of Peter the Great.

However, it is not so important how the quality competition in the regional market will develop: only consumer will benefit from such development, and the confectionery giants will be forced to drastically improve their products. Most likely, only in such conditions can cases of detection of mercury and benzopyrene in mass-produced confectionery products go to the past. 

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