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.
Is it possible to fast-track trademark registration in Russia?
In order to accelerate the registration of a trademark in Russia the applicant may use the RUPTO’s paid service for conducting informational search in all classes of Nice Classification. The search is conducted within 10 days from the date of filing the respective applicant’s petition. Using the search results when considering the application allows shortening the term of sending the first examination communication to the applicant and accordingly shortening the registration decision time to 2 months. The official tariff for this service amounts to 94,400 RUB.
What compensation can a trademark owner claim from the infringer for the breach of intellectual property rights?
The trademark owner can choose to claim from the infringer damages or a compensation payment in an amount ranging from RUR 10,000 to 5,000,000 (the specific amount is to be determined by the court based on the infringement circumstances), or compensation in an amount equaling double the price of the goods illegally bearing the trademark, or compensation in an amount equaling double the cost of the right to use the trademark to be determined based on the cost of rightful use of the trademark normally applicable in comparable circumstances.
Is sending a warning letter obligatory for initiating a non-use cancellation action against a Russian trademark?
Russian legislation provides for an obligatory pre-trial procedure in trademark non-use cancellation actions. In order to meet the requirements of the said obligatory pre-trial procedure the party which is interested in the trademark cancelation should send the Interested Person's Offer to the trademark owner. The Interested Person's Offer should contain an offer addressed to the trademark owner either to waive the rights for the trademark or to assign the trademark to the party that sent the offer (interested person).
The trademark cancellation lawsuit may be filed during 30 days upon expiration of two months from the date of forwarding the Interested Person's Offer.
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.
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.