The Swedish Patent and Market Court has ruled to ban Winefinder from marketing and selling alcohol for home delivery to Swedish customers.
Systembolaget, the government-run the alcohol retail monopoly in Sweden, filed the lawsuit against Winefinder with the Swedish Patent and Market Court. In Sweden, Systembolaget has the exclusive rights to sell alcohol according to the Swedish Alcohol Sales Act. Therefore, Winefinder was committing an unlawful act.
Irma Kilim, the leader of drug policy at IOGT-NTO commented on the court’s ruling:
I think that this ruling is very encouraging. It marks an important step in the right direction. IOGT-NTO has for a long time advocated to uphold the integrity of the protective laws, which Winefinder has not done.
Unfortunately, we know that the ruling will be appealed. But we hope that also higher courts will prioritize public health and will ensure that alcohol industry actors respect Swedish law.”Irma Kilim, Head of Drug Policy, IOGT-NTO
Winefinder ApS is a Danish company which is a subsidiary of Winefinder AB a Swedish company. The only part of the business that took place in Denmark was the storage and distribution of alcohol. Considering this the Swedish Patent and Market Court ruled that Winefinder’s operations constitute retail sales of alcoholic beverages in Sweden which is against the law as per the Swedish Alcohol Sales Act.
A unanimous ruling now prohibits Winefinder against a fine of SEK 1 million to market alcoholic beverages for sale and home delivery to Swedish customers. The company must also pay Systembolaget’s legal costs of SEK 2.75 million.
It is good that the court confirms the model with Systembolaget’s social mission, where we have the exclusive right to sell alcohol, to protect public health and counteract the harmful effects of alcohol,” said Malin Sandquist, lawyer and director of Companies and Society at Systembolaget, as per Accent.Malin Sandquist, lawyer and director of Companies and Society, Systembolaget
Winefinder has announced that they do not intend to close their operations in Sweden or pay the legal costs of Systembolaget. They are planning to appeal against the verdict. And they are encouraging their customers to continue buying alcohol online with Winefinder.
The ruling is clear and gives Systembolaget right on all counts,” said Kalle Dramstad, political secretary at IOGT-NTO, as per Accent.
It’s nice to get black on white which rules actually apply.”Kalle Dramstad, political secretary, IOGT-NTO
Accent also reports that already in 2011, IOGT-NTO reported ten alcohol online trading companies to the police for violating the Swedish Alcohol Sales Act. One of those companies was ruled guilty and the owner of another one fled the country with more than SEK 40 million in debt to the tax authority.