What are the grounds for refusal to register trademarks in Russia?
“ABSOLUTE” grounds for refusal
I. Lack of distinctiveness
Signs which are devoid of distinctive character or consisting only of elements that:
Please note that according to the Russian Trademark Office practice, a trademark consisting solely of consonants and/or figures lacks inherent distinctiveness.
The above-listed signs may be incorporated in a trademark as non-protected elements (disclaimers) if they do not dominate in the mark.
Furthermore, potentially, such marks may be registered if the applicant presents evidence of the mark's acquired distinctiveness through its long and intensive use. The evidence should cover a period prior to the application filing date and relate to any countries of the world but especially to the territory of Russia.
II. Misleading marks, marks that are contrary to public interests
The signs shall not be registered as trademarks in case they are (or contain the elements that are):
It is not possible to disclaim such an element in order to overcome the refusal.
“RELATIVE” grounds for refusal
I. Similarity with third parties’ prior rights
Signs shall not be registered as trademarks if they are identical or confusingly similar to:
II. Additional grounds for refusal stipulated by International Treaties
Signs shall not be registered as trademarks if they only consist of elements that are state armorial bearings, flags, or other state symbols and marks; abbreviations or full names of international and intergovernmental organizations, their armorial bearings, flags, or other symbols and marks; official signs or hallmarks of control and warranty, seals, awards, and other distinguishing signs; signs identifying wines or spirits that are protected in one of the states party to the respective international treaty, and some other objects.
The Russian Patent and Trademark Office conducts ex officio examination regarding the “absolute” grounds for refusal and some of the “relative” grounds for refusal, namely similarity with prior trademarks and industrial designs.