The Russian Federation is a Contracting Party to the Madrid Protocol and the Madrid Agreement. Each year, thousands of new international applications are filed through the Madrid System, and Russia is undoubtedly one of the countries of interest and importance for many filers.
A Notification of Provisional Refusal may be issued by any of the designated countries' registrars in case a trademark under the international registration procedure does not comply with the country’s legal requirements.
In Russia, a Notification of Provisional Refusal can be issued by the Russian Patent and Trademark Office (Rospatent) during trademark examination. A Notification of Provisional Refusal may be issued on absolute grounds (such as the lack of distinctive character, falseness, or the ability to mislead consumers), relative grounds (existence of prior identical or confusingly similar applications and/or registrations in Russia), or both. (Please refer to the section "Basic grounds for refusal to register trademarks" below.)
The time limit for submitting a response to a provisional refusal and requesting Rospatent’s review is six months from the Notification’s date indicated under Item “X”. Russian law does not provide for any extension of said time limit.
In case no response if filed within the indicated period, a decision confirming the provisional refusal is issued by Rospatent.
In some complicated cases, Rospatent still issues a rejecting decision following the provisional refusal, despite the argumentation provided by the applicant.
Potentially, such a decision may be appealed to the Chamber for Patent Disputes within four months from the date of issuance of the rejecting decision. In case this term is missed, it can be reinstated within the next six months provided that a reasonable excuse (such as obtaining a letter of consent/cancellation procedure/assignment procedure) is shown.
In case the Chamber for Patent Disputes upholds the rejecting decision, the Chamber’s ruling can be further appealed to the Court for Intellectual Property Rights.
According to Article 1247 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, foreign legal entities shall only exercise proceedings with Rospatent through registered patent attorneys, unless otherwise provided for by an international treaty of the Russian Federation”.
Sojuzpatent has broad experience in overcoming provisional refusals of protection in the Russian Federation and other post-USSR countries and offers all kinds of services related to:
Basic grounds for refusal to register trademarks
“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 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.
What kind of documents evidencing use of the trademark can the trademark owner present to the court?
Current legislation provides that a trademark can be terminated based on a non-use cancellation action filed by an interested party with the Intellectual Property Court in case the mark is not in use for a continuous period of 3 years.
In order to maintain legal protection of its trademark the owner should provide the court with proper evidence of use.
The following can be submitted as proof of use:
What are the usual reasons for a trademark registration refusal in Russia?
Apart from so-called relative grounds for refusal (likelihood of confusion with other rights protected in Russia), there are four basic (absolute) grounds for rejecting a trademark application, namely:
The most relevant and often used reasons for objecting to an application are that the trademark at issue lacks distinctiveness or is misleading.
In what way does a trademark differs from a trade name, a logo, or a brand? What does registration result in – a trademark, a logo, or a brand?
The words “brand”, “logo”, “label”, etc. are colloquial terms often used as synonyms for a trademark (service mark). Russian law instead uses only one legal definition – trademark (service mark). Thus, the registration of a designation with the patent office results in a trademark.
A trademark (service mark) is a designation used for individualization of goods (or services) of business entities or individual entrepreneurs, the IP rights to which belong to the trademark owner and are evidenced by a trademark certificate. In Russia trademarks can not be initially registered in the name of natural persons (individuals).
Trademarks can be in the form of a word, design, combination, three-dimensional shapes, sound marks etc. The owner of the trademark can indicate that it is registered and protected in Russia by placing one of these designations
next to the trademark:
“R”, ®, “trademark”, “registered trademark”.
Without the trademark owner's permission, nobody shall use designations which are identical to the trademark or designations that are similar to the trademark, in respect of the goods for individualization of which the trademark is registered, or homogenous goods, if such use may result in confusion of customers.
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.
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