On April 9, 2015 the Parliament adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Condemning the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and Banning the Propaganda of Their Symbols” (the “Law”).
This Law introduces the following principles of decommunization in the context of legal protection of intellectual property:
- It bans the use of Communist and Nazi symbols and the names and/or pseudonyms of Communist or Nazi party or state functionaries.
- It cancels legal protection for trademarks that are contrary to the Law, i.e. it will be impossible to register such trademarks. Earlier issued trademark certificates may be invalidated by court.
- It provides for the renaming of streets, populated settlements and other toponymy objects within populated settlements, as well as enterprises, institutions and organizations bearing names associated with the Communist party, its activity and functionaries or officials of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
We believe that direct exploitation of Communist or Nazi symbols as trademark elements is not very widespread in the modern Ukraine. In this context, therefore, the Law will not cause any significant changes in the use of intellectual property.
Instead, we expect that the decommunization process inspired by the Law will mainly trigger registration of new intellectual property objects in the context of the renaming of populated settlements and other toponymy objects within populated settlements, enterprises, institutions and organizations. It is mostly new trademarks and geographical indications reconstructing the revived ancient, historical or the so-called pre-revolutionary names of streets, towns, cities, localities, regions, etc., that will be registered in the course of decommunization. To add to that, the enterprises changing their names will also register new trademarks derivative of their “deсommunized” names.
For example, if the city of Chervonohrad in Lviv Oblast is renamed Krystynopil, companies will register trademarks such as Krystynopil,Krystynopilska, etc. Should the name of the city of Dnipropetrovsk be changed to Sicheslav, it would be prudent for companies to register trademarks such as Sich і Slava, Sicheslav, Sicheslavskyi, etc. Company names may be decommunized by removing some words from them, e.g. “of the Order of Lenin,” “named after Illich,” “named after the 50th Anniversary of October Revolution,” and other elements inherited from Soviet times.
We, however, do not rule out that unscrupulous companies can take advantage of the above situation to register relevant trademarks for any products or services without intending to use the same, just for the purpose of further sale of such trademarks to interested parties. Thus, companies operating in the real economy sector need to hurry up to register new trademarks, which will become popular during the period of decommunization and historical revival.