Absolute and Absolut settle

By Sarah Arnott
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:49

Absolute Radio has settled its branding dispute with Swedish vodka Absolut after an 18-month legal battle over allegations that the national music station was infringing the drink's trademark.

The terms of the settlement agreed in the High Court in London yesterday remain confidential.

V&S Vin & Spirit, which owns the Absolut vodka brand, launched its suit against the radio station in 2008. The writ was issued shortly after Virgin Radio was renamed Absolute Radio. The relaunch followed the station's purchase by the Times of India Group for £53.2m and the reversion of the "Virgin" brand to Sir Richard Branson.

V&S Vin & Spirit claimed the change carried the risk of confusion between the two products, to the detriment of the vodka brand. It alleged that Times of India Group was misrepresenting the radio station's services and the new name constituted "passing off".

Absolute Radio responded robustly. "We absolutely believe that our five million listeners can distinguish between a vodka brand and a radio station," a spokeswoman said at the time.

Relations between the two parties were more cordial after yesterday's settlement. Clive Dickens, the chief operating officer of Absolute Radio, said: "Absolute Radio is pleased with this settlement which will see us continue to build our music radio brand."

Paul Eriksson, a spokesman for V&S Vin & Spirit, said: "I am pleased with the outcome of this matter which will enable us to continue to develop the iconic Absolut brand without risk of confusion to the public."

V&S Vin and Spirit was bought by global drinks giant Pernod Ricard for €5.63bn (£4.87bn) in March 2008.

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