The new Ukrainian language law, which enters into force on July 16, 2019, will require the use of the Ukrainian language in product labeling and advertising, with the exception of trademarks, which, if in a foreign language, will not need to be translated into Ukrainian.
Product Names and Product Information
Art. 30 of the law sets a requirement for manufacturers and sellers in Ukraine to provide consumers with information on goods and services in the official language – Ukrainian. Providing this information in another language is allowed, but the scope of information provided in a foreign language cannot exceed the scope of information provided in the Ukrainian language.
The type of information that must always be provided in Ukrainian is set forth in Art. 15 of the consumer protection law and includes the following:
- Product name and brand name;
- Main product characteristics (weight, volume);
- Information on harmful substance content, warning on use, if required by the law;
- Notice on GMO content;
- Pricing information;
- Date of production;
- Storage conditions;
- Terms of efficient and safe use of the product;
- Expiration date and information on the disposal of the expired product;
- Name and address of the manufacturer and seller;
- Information on the entity responsible for receiving consumers’ complaints and the warranty service.
This information must be printed in the Ukrainian language on the product packaging, or in case the packaging contains information in a language other than Ukrainian, a sticker with the information in the Ukrainian language must be placed on it.
At the same time, Art. 42 of the language law guarantees the right to use a trademark as it is registered in Ukraine, i.e. it does not require translation of trademarks into Ukrainian.
Assuming that their brands are registered as trademarks in Ukraine, the main implication for trademark holders is that, if in a foreign language, their product names must also be either registered as trademarks in Ukraine, or translated into Ukrainian and then either printed on the packaging or placed on a sticker label along with the rest of the above-mentioned information.
The Language of Advertising
Art. 32 of the language law also establishes Ukrainian as the principal language of advertising in Ukraine. Besides the mentioned trademark exception under Art. 42, another exception allows press and television advertising in one of the official languages of the European Union, if published or aired by foreign broadcasters.
In case of non-compliance, a warning notice will be issued and an opportunity given to remedy the breach within 30 days (Art. 57 of the language law). In case of a second breach in the course of a year, the law prescribes a fine in the amount of approximately EUR 200 (USD 225).
The law provides for the establishment of the Office of the Special Envoy responsible for ensuring compliance with each rule. This will be a completely new institution in Ukraine, whose head will be appointed by the Ukrainian Government. However, it remains to be seen how the law will be implemented and enforced.