Clients often ask about whether they should register a Russian (Cyrillic) trademark, or just an English (Western) one.
The Russian Civil Code sets out that only legal entities and individual entrepreneurs can own a trademark. Applications can also not exist for co-applicants unless a collective mark is involved.
Whilst there is no requirement in the Russian TM law on the language of the trademark, it is definitely advisable to register both Western and Cyrillic marks.
The majority of consumers in Russia are unable to speak English or read the Western alphabet well – especially since most advertising must be in Russian.
Registration of a Western mark will also not necessarily protect you for its use and registration in its Cyrillic version – especially that a Western mark can often be translated both phonetically and literally. There are also many ways to use Cyrillic letters to translate a Western letter sound.
Ideally, the Western and Cyrillic mark should be registered separately. Whilst some brands try to register them together, this can be an issue with regards to ‘non-use’ as well as enforcement.
It is also important to remember that the CIS is made up of a number of different countries with their own local language – whilst Russian is prevalent in them, companies doing business on the ground should also register in the local language as well.