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Swedish vodka firm sues UK radio station

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 19 Aug 2009, 12:23

Published: 19 Aug 2009 12:23 GMT+02:00

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Drinks company Vin & Sprit confirmed that they consider the newly adopted name for the radio station - once owned by UK entrepreneur Richard Branson - to be inappropriate.

"I can confirm that it is correct that we have objections to them using the name Absolute," Paula Eriksson at The Absolut Company in Stockholm told The Local on Wednesday.

When asked whether the general public would have difficulty differentiating between a radio station and a vodka brand, Eriksson replied:

"Absolut is a brand that is known worldwide outside of its spirits category. We consider that there is a risk of confusion."

Absolute Radio, which changed its named after having been bought by the Times of India Group, however said in a statement that it would fight the legal proceedings and a spokesperson argued that its listeners could distinguish between a vodka brand and a radio station.

Jo Sharman, a British resident of Sweden who has been called on to issue a witness statement in the case concurs.

"I wrote a jokey email to Absolute Radio asking them if they had something to do with the vodka. The radio station, and then Absolut Vodka, later contacted me to clarify what I meant," Sharman told The Local on Wednesday.

"I honestly think this is all really silly. It was a joke. There is a big difference between a radio station and a vodka," Sharman said.

Story continues below…

Paula Eriksson was however in no doubt that Vin & Sprit, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, was correct in acting to protect its brand and underlined that there was also a moral issue at stake.

"We have a company policy of not targeting our products at those aged under 18. The radio station has a much wider audience. This is something that we do not consider appropriate."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:50 August 19, 2009 by bocale1
do they want to copyright also a single word? Can I still then use it in my mails or should ask the V&S the permission for using the word absolut? This is ridiculous!
13:57 August 19, 2009 by benomax
@bocale1... I quite agree with you that it is really ridiculous to take a legal suit for an English word being used. I guess we english users should get really for legal suit for using the word ABSOLUTE or the the Swedish word AbSOLUT because they are watching to take us to court soon, lol.
14:12 August 19, 2009 by justanotherexpat
It gets better - Absolut asked Jo for her "thoughts on the name change" so she replied, informing them of her thoughts........which were along the lines of, "I've already given a statement to Absolute Radio's people that the whole thing is bloody ridiculous - so get over yourselves!"

Absolutely. *grin*
14:48 August 19, 2009 by Liadora
Dear V&S

Yes, we people in the UK can be incredibly dumb sometimes. We do stupid things, we think stupid things.

But please...when it comes to alcohol, we know our stuff. This country could drink the equvalent of every Swedish lake in a matter of hours if there was a particularly rowdy hen party going on.

Please allow that as dim as we may be, we actually can differentiate between a radio station and a bottle of booze. If we can't, then perhaps we have been helping ourselves to too much of your product, which kinda makes it your fault anyway.

Listening to Absolute Radio? You are in your car home from work.

Listening to Absolut Vodka? You need an AA meeting.

Teehee :D
15:03 August 19, 2009 by BrittInSweden
I always confuse my radio stations and spirits. Glad these guys are on the ball and willing to protect us from such confusions.
15:12 August 19, 2009 by Leprehcaun
I thought the French bought that company.. Just a defense to us or whatever.. xD
15:55 August 19, 2009 by Kaethar
Well, I can understand it...They've created a very strong brandname and they often play with words in their commercials and advertisements. Like with: "It's an absolut world." Absolute isn't a word which you hear too often which is why it's such an effective brandname. When I hear Absolute radio I think of the vodka. To me it's an apparent wordplay. Do I think they should sue? Not really, but I can understand why they'd want to.
16:07 August 19, 2009 by ooh456
Why the vodka brand wouldn't want a whole ton of free advertising is another question. That being said Absolute Radio is a stupid name and they definitely knew about the 20 year Absolut X advertising campaigns so the case has weight.
16:17 August 19, 2009 by BrittInSweden
Dunno about some here but most people I know, myself included actually say "Absolut" and "Absolute" differently too.
16:59 August 19, 2009 by The Silver Fox
Interesting that to my knowledge there has been no attempt to sue the producers of the "Absolute Hits" (and associated spinoff cd's). As far as I can see this is a Scandinavian series of music equivalent to the "Now (That's What I Call) Music" series.

Hmmm... confusing!!

Unless of course, I'm completely wrong and the Absolute music series is made by the vodka brand and is of course targetting youngsters...

It's all so confusing.. I'm going for a lie down!!
17:13 August 19, 2009 by Kaethar
When Absolute was created (1986) Absolut Vodka was still a young company. Their brandname wasn't nearly as strong as it is now so they wouldn't have had a strong case.
17:33 August 19, 2009 by byke
A total waste of money and an attempt to pervert copyright laws.

I am guessing Absolut is doing this for publicity.
19:18 August 19, 2009 by Soft Boiled
Absolutely Ridiculous :)
20:09 August 19, 2009 by insect
I would think these absolut vodka guys would take advantage of the free advertising they are getting from the radio guys. Imagine rush hour in the evening then you hear...blah blah blah this is Phil Nada from Absolut Radio, what are you planning with your Friday evening? My mind would immediately hit a friday evening in a pub drinking absolut vodka. Duh!
20:48 August 19, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Absolutely silly.
21:58 August 19, 2009 by Snoopy!
Hmm I see this legal action falling into a very large hangover for these Vodka Swigging Fuggers ! .....actually let them sue , then watch them lose ! ....so what are they going to do with the rest ?

www.absolutehorsepower.se/ .....my favorite










Geee now do any of the above sell vodka ...I´m confused , I cant seem to differentiate between any of them ....

And for the hell of it

Here it is http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk/
10:46 August 20, 2009 by bettan1
Interesting !!!

As pointed out by "Snoopy" - there are other companies and organizations which use the English spelling of the name. So why is the radio station being singled out in a lawsuit ???

Apparently this is no more than a con game for free publicity to increase sales of their junk. If they make a little extra money on the side through the suit then all the better.

What a ABSOLUTE waste of important court time.
15:13 August 20, 2009 by BigScotsGuy
I want my money back! I've been trying to listen to my favourite radio station for 8 hours now. I've tried turning all the knobs, pressing every button, even bangin on the bottle a few times. Still not a sound from my Absolut bottle of radio! I think I'll complain to the trading standards people. I'm pretty sure that the last time I drank a bottle of Absolut I heard plenty of strange noises? This whole 'cenvergence' thing has gone too far. Radio from a Vodka bottle, what next?
11:21 August 21, 2009 by si
I guess the absolut just doesn't match up to the buckfast (not to mention the medicinal properties )
18:33 August 21, 2009 by justanotherexpat
I've just recommended to Jo that she replies to the Absolut legal team's question on what she thinks of the Virgin Radio namechange by sending them a link to this article and the comments therein :)

I wonder if Koskenkorva will give us reward points to be redeemend against a vodka that can at least do a flavoured version that doesn't take like meths with cordial in it!!!
23:29 August 21, 2009 by Coalbanks
I hereby absolutely refuse to drink AbSOLUT vodka.
06:26 August 27, 2009 by doggiedude
It really doesn't matter if they like the free advertising that they'd get from the radio station. In the legal world of copyrights & trademarks you can't pick & choose. You either defend your trademark everytime or you lose your trademark.
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