According to Russian law, a trademark is defined as “a sign capable of individualizing the goods/services of legal entities or individual entrepreneurs.” (Art. 1477 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).
It is important to note that Russian law does not allow trademark registrations in the name of natural persons unless they are registered as individual entrepreneurs. Therefore, if a foreign physical person files a trademark application, they should double check whether they may be considered an individual entrepreneur according to their country’s local law. Individual entrepreneurship is a type of enterprise that is owned and run by a single person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity. Russian law, however, does not require any evidence that a trademark applicant is an individual entrepreneur at the stage of registering the trademark.
Unregistered trademarks do not enjoy legal protection in Russia
Russia is a "first to register" country. Under Russian trademark law, trademark rights are not acquired by actually using the designation in respect of the sale of goods or the advertising or performance of services; they are granted to the first person to file a trademark application. With the exception of a very narrow group of famous brands, the actual use of a brand in Russia does not give the brand owner any legal rights. Registration of a trademark outside Russia does not give the owner any rights either.
Registration of trademarks is not mandatory in Russia. However, the only protection afforded to non-registered brands in Russia may be found in unfair competition law based on Article 10-bis of the Paris Convention. In practice, protection of unregistered brands in Russia on the basis of this law is expensive and unpredictable. Accordingly, we do not recommend our clients to rely on unfair competition law to ensure brand protection. The simplest and the most straightforward way to protect your brand is to file a trademark application with the national trademark registrar – Rospatent.
Signs that can be registered as trademarks in Russia
Word, figurative, three-dimensional, and other signs or combinations thereof can be registered as trademarks.
A trademark may be registered in any color or color combination.
It is possible to register sounds, colors, holograms, olfactory marks, and some other types of non-traditional trademarks as long as they meet the distinctiveness requirement (capability of distinguishing your goods and services from those of others in the market).
Eurasian Customs Union
It is worth noting that Russia is a member of the Eurasian Customs Union (EACU). Apart from Russia, the Union‘s members as of today are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The EACU represents a single customs territory without customs control between any of the member states, so the goods can freely circulate among the countries. This situation has created new challenges for trademark holders in the member states. To ensure efficient trademark protection on the Union’s territory and to avoid possible pitfalls, it may be advantageous to register your trademark in all the member states. We are ready to help with professional advice in any particular case.
Our trademark attorneys will assist you in registering your trademark (service mark) in Russia and in the former USSR countries, namely in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, under the Madrid System (international application) or in accordance with the national procedure.
If my Russian trademark is illegally used in a domain name, do I have recourse to UDRP procedures in order to transfer the disputed domain name without litigation?
If the domain name is registered in one of the following generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs): .com, .info, .net, .org, .biz, .name, .pro, .aero, .asia, .cat, .coop, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .tel, .travel or in a new gTLD, your dispute may be resolved out of court on the base of the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
However, UDRP or similar dispute resolution proceedings are not currently available for .ru domains. In such cases, there are no options apart from litigation in court if the administrator does not concede to the trademark holder’s demand.
Do foreign applicants need a Russian trademark attorney?
It is mandatory according to Russian legislation that foreign applicants be represented before Rospatent (the RUPTO) by a Russian patent (trademark) attorney who is listed in the Russian Register of Patent Attorneys.
To be successfully guided through the intricacies of national regulation and to ensure the needed scope of protection, it is important for the applicant to retain an experienced attorney.
Can a light be registered as a trademark in Russia?
In the Russian Federation, a light designation can be registered as a trademark.
If a light is applied for registration as a trademark in Russia, it will be necessary to provide a description of the light symbols, their sequence, duration of lighting, and some other features.
Should I send a warning letter before filing a trademark infringement lawsuit in Russia?
According to Russian IP legislation, in commercial disputes on IP rights infringements, a warning letter (cease-and-desist letter or CDL) is obligatory and should be forwarded to the infringer before filing the lawsuit in case the right owner desires to claim damages or compensation.
The lawsuit can be filed if the infringer fails to satisfy the claims contained in the warning letter within thirty days after its dispatch.
Who can sign a power of attorney to be submitted to the RUPTO, EAPO, Russian courts?
The signer does not have to hold any specific position or to be an executive of a certain rank. However, his or her position should be clearly indicated in the PoA. The signer should be duly authorized to act on behalf of the company, not just assigned to oversee certain cases. It is normally requested that the documents that empower the signer be mentioned in the text of the power of attorney. If the signer deals on the basis of a proxy, the powers of the person who has signed the proxy may also be checked. It is highly advisable that all the corporate titles coincide in different documents. For example, if the proxy is signed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the official title of the person who can sign according to the bylaws is Director, the respective Court may not accept the documents without requesting further clarifications.