The importance of the FAS (Federal Anti-Monopoly Services) cannot be underestimated in Russia. Whilst dealing with IP infringements, they will look also look at general anti-unfair competition activities. Worth noting for brands working in Russia.

Recently the FAS has ordered the city of St Petersburg to terminate their contract with the Studio Artemiy Lebedev. Artemiy Lebedev is one of Russia’s most famous designers and has been seen as Russia’s Philippe Starck. His studio had been asked to work on a new logo for the city. It was understood that the city and the studio had already agreed on the contract, confirming that the proposal was of good quality and had been without comment

The complaint against the city’s committee on tourism development and the design studio was lodged by the marketing company Grigoriev Boris and Partners.

Through review, the FAS confirmed that the studio had obtained information on the city’s need for the logo before signing the contract that had given them an advantage. Based on official information given by the studio, the subject of the city’s contract was to: promote and advance their own brand, creating a positive reputational status and attraction to new customers. The contract between the studio and the city had been confidential – making it impossible for other design studios to also bid for the same. The FAS confirmed the actions had violated Article 15.1 of the Russian Law on the Protection of Competition: “Federal executive authorities of the Russian Federation, public authorities, local authorities, other authorities or organizations performing the functions of these bodies, organizations involved in the provision of public and municipal services, as well as state nonbudgetary funds, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation are forbidden to pass acts and (or) exercise action (inaction) which lead or may lead to preventing, restricting or eliminating competition, except cases when adopting such acts and (or) the implementation of such actions (inaction) is stipulated by federal laws, in particular, the following is prohibited”. The city’s committee for tourist development have been warned to stop the cooperation by November 30,2016. It is unclear if there will then follow a public tender.

Brands should take note of the FAS’s wider work activity – especially those working in Russia on public tender.