Change Proposed for Russian Trademark Law

by T+B Blog Team on July 23, 2014

This month, Russia’s authority responsible for intellectual property protection floated the idea of changing trademark law so that it no longer treats naturalistic images of products and descriptive trademarks as an argument for distinctiveness, according to a World Trademark Review blog post.

The proposal drew mixed reactions, with some suggesting the amendment could soften rules for product packaging in the country, while others expressed fears it might prompt “a lot of concern,” noting there are far more serious problems that require the authority’s attention.

A number of cases highlighting the issue that the Federation Council on Intellectual Property wants to deal with can be cited, according to WTR. These involve companies that hold trademark rights for packaging and descriptive elements that start infringement suits against competitors. One of them is crispbread maker Elizaveta, which holds trademark rights to the packaging of its products and has brought civil action against sector players using a similar image of crispbread for their packages.

According to Support of Russia vice president Natalya Zolotykh, quoted in an article in Izvestia, the main problem is that holders of descriptive trademarks and trademarks containing a product image aim to monopolize the market by preventing others from selling similar products. Russia’s IP authority sees the very same problem, stating that this type of trademark has negative implications for the market. The council’s proposed change to the law seeks to close this loophole. While there’s no information about when the modifications will move forward, it’s expected that some companies will try to block it.

Meanwhile, global consumer market research company Canadean considers that such a change would be good for local brands. The research company stated on its website that it is upbeat that it would open sound opportunities for new brands and drive a change in market trends among local consumers.

What’s your opinion of the proposed amendment?

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