After about one and a half years since its creation on paper (as we previously reported), the Russian IP Court started working on 3 July 2013. It was established as one of the measures to reinforce the IP protection and enforcement system in Russia in the round-up to the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. It is the first specialised court within the system of the Russian Arbitrazh (Federal Commercial) Courts.
Who sits on the IP Court
Cases referred to the IP Court are heard by judges selected from the 16 judges who make up the Court.
As a higher legal education has traditionally been important for judges in the Russian court system, the IP Court judges have a legal rather than a technical background. However, they are supported by experts appointed by the Court.
Cases heard by the IP Court
The Court reviews:
- as a court of first instance – challenges of regulatory acts of the Government in the field of IP (such as the Decrees establishing the official fees for IP prosecution or the Decrees establishing the scope of authority of the Russian Patent Trademark Office (the “Russian PTO”)) and those of the Russian PTO (such as the Regulations establishing the IP prosecution procedures);
- as a court of first instance – claims for the invalidation of the registration of IP rights and disputes over the IP rights ownership; and
as a court of third instance (i.e. a second appeal or a cassation) – IP rights infringement cases between legal entities and/or individual entrepreneurs.
The cassation rulings of the IP Court can be further appealed to the Supreme Commercial Court of Russia. Other rulings are appealed against at the IP Court.
In the first three months of its operational launch, about 350 IP disputes have been lodged with the IP Court, many of those being claims for the invalidation of the registration of IP rights and/or disputes with the Russian PTO.
IP Court – New hopes
The launch of the IP Court is both an important and long-awaited development in Russian IP practice.
It will favourably affect IP owners, since IP disputes (including those associated with IP prosecution issues) in Russia are now reviewed by judges specialising in this field. Along with other IP practitioners, we are expecting an increase in professionalism and sound legal approach with regard to IP-related judgments in Russia, not only from the newly established IP Court but also across the Russian court system as a whole.
The fact that Russian PTO decisions and actions from PTO-subordinated bodies can now be directly appealed outside of the PTO (i.e. at the IP Court) is another positive change for both practitioners and clients, since such appeals should be reviewed in a more independent and unbiased manner.