The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) canceled the decision of its own department for the Tver region and sent for a new consideration the complaint of AB InBev Efes against the Afanasy brewing company on the use of the Tver Kozel trademark. This is stated on the FAS website.
AB InBev Efes complained about Athanasius to the Tverskoye OFAS back in September 2022. The foreign company’s portfolio includes Velkopopovitsky Kozel beer, while its opponent produces the Tverskoy Kozel beer drink, which has images of a goat similar to its brands. However, the antimonopoly authority did not find any violations, deciding that the parties are not competitors, and their products belong to different types of goods in different price categories: “Velkopopovitsky goat” from AB InBev Efes costs 190 rubles. for 1 liter, and “Tver Goat” from “Athanasius” – 60-70 rubles. for 1 liter
In February 2023, consideration of this case was terminated. After that, AB InBev Efes appealed to the FAS Board of Appeal. There, in turn, they considered that the name of the regional company’s products and its design really resemble the Velkopopovicky Kozel and Velkopopovicky Kozel brands, which are part of the AB InBev Efes portfolio. “In some cases, the use of a similar style can be aimed at creating an associative link between the products of the two companies, which is a form of parasitic competition,” the Board of Appeal said in its decision. Athanasius declined to comment. A representative of AB InBev Efes also acted, referring to the fact that this decision is intermediate.
The regional department made a mistake at least that the signs of the two companies, as well as the product category (both products are low-alcohol), are not similar, the actions of the private brewery Afanasy could really mislead the consumer, says Stanislav Kaufman, owner of the Kaufman branding agency. According to him, after the departure of a number of large foreign brands in 2022, many local companies began to abuse the practice of releasing products that resemble well-known brands. Such actions do not require advertising costs and other financial and mental efforts, but provide an opportunity for easy earnings at someone else’s expense, the expert explained. He believes that this time AB InBev Efes will most likely be able to protect its rights. Nevsky IP Law lawyer Uliana Tsilyurik disagrees with him, who believes that it is premature to draw such conclusions. The Federal Antimonopoly Service revealed only the fact of an incomplete study by the Tver administration of the evidence presented in the case file, she notes. In addition, according to the lawyer, “Afanasy” is a major and well-known player in the Tver region, the company has long formed its own corporate identity. The historical aspect should not be discounted either: the goat is a regional symbol of Tver, in honor of which a whole museum was founded in the city, therefore, when re-examining the case, the Tver OFAS may also not find violations, adds Tsilyurik.
AB InBev Efes was established in 2018 through the merger of AB InBev and Anadolu Efes businesses in Russia. It produces beer under the brands BUD, Efes Pilsener, Spaten, Velkopopovicky Kozel, Hoegaarden, El Capulco, Old Melnik from a Barrel, Klinskoye, Beliy Medved and others. Efes” in 2022 amounted to 97.5 billion rubles, net profit – 12 billion rubles.
Afanasiy Holding produces beer and beer drinks under the brands Vintage, Craft, Nippel, as well as dairy, meat and fish products. Its owner is Tver businessman Maxim Larin. The consolidated revenue of the group is not disclosed, but one of the main structures of the holding, Afanasy Private Brewery, increased its revenue by 22% to RUB 3.5 billion in 2022, earning a net profit of RUB 117.9 million.