The former majority shareholders of Yukos Oil Company will auction the Benelux trademarks of 18 Russian state-owned vodka brands to cash in their US$58 billion damages claim.
The Benelux trademarks of 18 Russian state-owned vodka brands, including Stolichnaya, will be live-auctioned on Tuesday 6 December in the Netherlands.
The trademarks were seized by the former Yukos majority shareholders for the ‘illegal, politically motivated expropriation’ of the Russian oil giant in 2003.
GML, Yukos Universal, Hulley Enterprises, and Veteran Petroleum were the majority shareholders of the former Yukos Oil Company.
Around the year 2000, Yukos Oil had risen to become the largest oil company in Russia.
However, after CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky exposed alleged government corruption in 2003, the company claimed it was ‘intentionally bankrupted’ by the Kremlin. Khodorkovsky was sent to prison in Siberia after a trial.
In 2014, the independent Arbitral Tribunal at the Peace Place in The Hague determined: “The Russian authorities were conducting a ruthless campaign to destroy Yukos, appropriate its assets and eliminate Mr Khodorkovsky as a political opponent.”
The former majority shareholders were awarded more than US$50bn in compensation.
The decision was upheld in The Hague Court of Appeal in February 2020, and was declared ‘immediately enforceable’.
In November 2021, the Dutch Supreme Court further backed the ruling, referring a small part of the case to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal on a procedural ground.
The former majority shareholders state that the Russian Federation has so far refused to comply with the monetary award. The groups allege that the Russian Federation has not replied to invitations to explore a settlement.
The Dutch Court of Appeal in The Hague approved the seizure of the Benelux trademarks in June this year, as well as the international trademarks to the extent that they apply to the Benelux region. These are being held by FKP Sojuzplodoimport (FKPS) on behalf of the Russian Federation.
The trademarks and related copyrights will be auctioned in one lot.
Equilibristen Bailiffs will hold the auction at 2pm CET in Nieuwspoort, Bezuidenhoutseweg 67 in The Hague, on 6 December.
In 2018, SPI Group lost its Stolichnaya trademark appeal in Benelux.
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Author: Melita Kiely