In 2006, the Russian Federation has started a reform process aiming at the adoption of protective measures of industrial property, implementing in large part the provisions of the World Trade Organization (TRIPs Agreement) and introducing a new Part IV to the Russian Civil Code, entered into force in 2008. Such new rules provided a more organic structure to the industrial property and copyright discipline, also in view of matching the general European Union standards.
Upon entering into the WTO (August 22, 2012), the Russian Federation implemented a number of reforms in relation to compliance with international standards and equal treatment between Russian-resident entrepreneurs and non-residents active in the territory, with regards to affordability of registration of trademarks, patents, utility models and protection of industrial designs.
In general (under the principles of Competition Law no. 135-FZ, dated July 26th, 2006) owners of industrial property rights may request the recognition of exclusive rights, inhibit actions against patent violations, claim for damages, seize goods against manufacturers, sellers and/or distributors, and see published condemnation decisions on newspapers or magazines.
The notion of “unfair competition” appears yet still very limited compared to the notion generally recognized within antitrust law in the European Union, since within Russia the notion appears to fall within a form of administrative offense requiring a prior determination by the Federal Antitrust Authority in order to reclaim damages.
At administrative level, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (the “Rospatent”) is the authority responsible for all IP registrations and also for the management of administrative procedures related to their refusals, oppositions and revocations for non-use. The system adopted thus foresees a different treatment and competences between industrial law disputes and lawsuits involving individuals (whose competence is entrusted to the “Courts of General Jurisdiction”) and those in which are also involved companies and entrepreneurs (entrusted to a commercial court called “Arbitrazh”).
The protection of industrial property rights has always been one of the major deterrents to foreign investment in Russia, mainly because of the discrimination between residency of applicants. As of 1st February 2013, a newly established Industrial and Intellectual Property Court set up by Law no. 4 – FKZ of December 6th, 2011 will ensure prompt and specialized resolution of IP cases. Such Court will have jurisdiction over:
- appeals of the administrative decisions in industrial property matters, with particular regard to the measures taken by the Rosepatent;
- appeal of measures adopted by the Federal Antitrust Authority.
As judge of legitimacy, the Court will also be responsible for the legality of the judgments delivered by Courts of first instance and the Arbitrazh, also with a consulting role in the proposition of bills and regulation affecting intellectual property. Appeals against the decisions of the Court is to be filed directly before the Supreme Court.