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Smirnoff Vodka Archive

Documents related to a 1996 court case between descendants of Smirnoff's founder and its parent company.

The Smirnoff Vodka Archive contains documents related to the trademark infringement case of Joint Stock Society "Trade House of Descendants of Peter Smirnoff, Official Purveyor to the Imperial Court" and the Russian American Spirits Company v. Heublein, Inc. and International Distillers & Vintners Ltd.

In 1996, the descendants of Peter Smirnoff, founder of the Smirnoff Vodka brand, brought a lawsuit against Heublein, Inc. and its parent company, International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. The plaintiffs charged that the sale of the Smirnoff brand and the intellectual property associated with it were void as the seller did not own the legal right to either.

As a result, the plaintiffs argued that the current U.S. trademark holder, Heublein Inc., must relinquish the Smirnoff trademark and the intellectual property associated with it.

The archive consists of court filings, depositions, and other case documents. It also contains archival documents on:

  • the origins of the Smirnoff family in Imperial Russia in the early 1800s,
  • the founding of the Smirnoff Vodka company,
  • its history during the upheavals of the Russian Revolution,
  • the transfer of the company’s headquarters outside of Russia, and
  • the company’s eventual sale to a Russian immigrant living in the United States.

Accessing These Materials

The collection is available for in-library use. Please contact the Fung Library to request access.