ICB axes Vodkat for V-Kat brand

Intercontinental Brands will replace its Vodkat spirit brand with a new product called V-Kat at the end of this month, to end a long-running legal dispute with Diageo.

ICB said it would begin to feed the new product into the supply chain over the next couple of weeks.

Diageo said ICB had agreed to axe the Vodkat name and packaging to ensure it was “clear to consumers that the product is not vodka”.

John Mills, ICB managing director, said: “We’re very relieved we can put this behind us and be more focused than we have been for a very long time. It’s not the outcome we would have liked, but at least it’s done.”?He said the new launch had been decided upon because it had become apparent that altering the existing product “would never completely answer

all the judge’s concerns”.

A “substantial” sum in damages and legal costs will also be paid. Mills said this would be “painful but the business is absolutely rock solid”. The new product will have the same liquid content, abv and price point as Vodkat, but with more emphasis on a schapps description.

ICB was taken to court by Smirnoff firm Diageo in a passing-off case which began in 2008. Simon Litherland, managing director of Diageo GB, said: “We are pleased to have finally reached a settlement with ICB and that ICB has recognised that the use of the name Vodkat – or indeed any ‘Vod’ prefixed brand name – on a product that is not vodka is likely to confuse consumers.

“The original court decision and the decision of the Court of Appeal in July were important not only for Diageo but also for other vodka brand owners and producers, and for vodka consumers.

“They will ensure that the vodka category can be protected from other vodka lookalike products both now and in the future and should help protect the long-term integrity of the vodka market.”?Retailers are being assured by Intercontinental Brands that they will still be able to sell old stocks of Vodkat after the end of January.

“There is no legal problem for retailers in selling current stocks of Vodkat if they still have bottles in February, next summer or this time next year,” Mills added.