In response to the economic sanctions imposed by Western countries, the Russian government has legalized intellectual property piracy against rights holders in so called “enemy countries.” The list of countries includes all members of the European Union and the United States, as well several other countries generally aligned with the EU and US. In particular, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree specifying that patent owners from the listed countries will be owed 0% of the proceeds from the productions/sale of goods or performance of work/services covered by the patents. Thus, patent owners from these countries now have little or no means for enforcing their rights against competitors and copycats in Russia.
Additionally, the pullout by Western companies from Russia has left a branding “void,” which has resulted in a large amount of new trademark filings in Russia (by Russian and Russian-friendly entities) seeking to “steal” the trademarks of the withdrawing companies. For example, upon the closing of 800 McDonald’s in Russia, a new company has moved into the abandoned restaurants and filed a trademark application for the McDonald’s “M” rotated on its side. There have also been several “unauthorized” trademark filings by copycats looking to take advantage of the goodwill associated with well-known consumer brands, including Nike, Adidas, Chanel, Levi’s, etc.
At this point, it appears that it will be difficult or impossible for U.S. individuals and entities to obtain or enforce their intellectual property rights in Russia. However, the situation in Russia is constantly evolving. If you have any questions about protecting your intellectual property rights in Russia, or elsewhere, please contact us.