Brand owners interested in protecting their intellectual property in Russia should be aware of two recent important changes to Russian trademark law. 

A win for senior trademark rights holder: Publication of trademark applications and formal sanctioning of letters of objection

First, under the amended law, trademark applications will be published for inspection by the public, making it easier for brand owners to identify applications for potentially confusingly similar marks. Although Russia does not have a procedure for instituting formal opposition proceedings, interested parties are allowed to submit letters of objection to the Russian Office that raise a basis for refusing registration. The Russian Office’s decision to allow a mark to proceed to registration must account for any letters of objection filed. 

A win for junior trademark rights holder: Suspending trademark applications in certain circumstances

Second, junior trademark rights holders now have the ability to suspend prosecution of an application that has been refused registration over a confusingly similar registered mark, including in cases where the applicant has instituted a proceeding to cancel the cited registration. Under the previous law, there was no process to stay action on an application pending a determination of rights as between two entities.

With these changes, Russian trademark law practice moves closer to that in other European countries, and provides more options for parties involved in rights disputes.