Examining Russia's intellectual property landscape following its invasion of Ukraine, the article discusses international tensions that have disrupted trademark protections and rights in Russia. Prominent intellectual property partners, including the European Patent Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office, have condemned Russia's aggression and severed ties with the country's intellectual property agency, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent). Explaining that Russia has responded by introducing a series of measures that have diluted the country's intellectual property safeguards, the article outlines several steps taken by Russian authorities that are limiting foreign trademark owners' rights.

The article further highlights a growing trend of trademark applications by Russian entrepreneurs and businesses for the marks of foreign brands, including exact copies of existing brands as well as imitation brands. Rospatent has publicly stated that applications would be subject to denial if identical or similar trademarks are already registered in Russia, and the agency's head has further pushed back on media coverage of trademark troubles in Russia. Peter B. Maggs, research professor of law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and noted expert on Russian and Soviet law and intellectual property, is quoted throughout the article regarding his thoughts on the current conditions in Russia – including his observation that third-party attempts to hijack foreign marks will likely fail.

Citing various provisions in the Russian Civil Code, the article notes potential risks arising from the exodus of global brands from the Russian market. For instance, brands face the risk of trademark cancellation by suspending local operations, as a trademark may be cancelled in Russia due to non-use of the mark for three consecutive years. Likewise, if a company that has suspended sales in Russia also seeks to stop others from selling in the country, it may be accused of violating a "good faith requirement" that disallows exercising "rights for the purpose of limiting competition and also abuse of a dominant position in a market."

According to the article, "the question looming on the horizon is whether, if the current crisis escalates, the Russian government would outright cancel trademarks from hostile countries. It would not be the first time a state denied intellectual property rights during political conflicts." However, highlighting prior examples that either preceded or followed periods of war, the article notes that those "precedents are not directly on point" because "Russia is not officially at war with the countries it has deemed 'unfriendly.'"

"Brands that have suspended business operations in Russia should monitor their trademark portfolios closely for infringement and consider how they can prove use of each mark during a prolonged absence from the Russian market," the article concludes.

The article first appeared in Katten Kattwalk | Issue 24.

"Stolen Arches, IKEAish? What Western Sanctions Mean for Brand Trademarks in Russia", Worldcrunch, August 30, 2022

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