Almost every kind of business has intellectual property that needs to be protected, and it is important for medium and large international corporations to move forward with these unique assets in mind. Questions about intellectual property rights can arise when foreign businesses are:
- Forming a new company in Russia
- Concerned about trademarks
- Inventing and releasing new products
- Expanding into new markets
- Acquiring new assets or looking in financing options
- Creating marketing and training materials
- Developing software
- Using a new and innovative business method
- Merging with or partnering with a Russian company
However, without proactive planning, the complexities of international treaties and Russian laws can create delays for businesses and investors. For assistance with questions about the intellectual property rights of foreign companies in Russia, don’t hesitate to contact the highly experienced corporate attorneys with Jus Privatum.
What Is Intellectual Property?
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property is made up of “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.” The primary legislation regulating intellectual property in Russia was passed in 1992, but many amendments and related laws have been passed in the decades since. While these laws and changes may seem somewhat complicated, the good news is that foreign legal entities are able to seek protection for intellectual property rights in Russia, provided that all legal requirements are satisfied.
It is also important to note that Russia is a signatory to major international treaties on intellectual property rights, including:
- The Universal Copyright Convention
- The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
- The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
- The Patent Cooperation Treaty
- The Madrid Agreement on the International Registration of Trademarks
- The Protocol to the Madrid Agreement
Not All Intellectual Property Is Treated the Same Under Russian Laws
Different kinds of intellectual property are treated differently under Russian and international laws, so it worth consulting with an attorney who is deeply familiar with those laws. Our corporate attorneys are prepared to help your business with all kinds needs, including:
Patent applications are filed with the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent), which determines if the application meets the required criteria. If granted, the patent owner has the sole right to use a patented object, although it is possible—with appropriate registration—to assign or license a patented object to another party. Patent infringement can result in civil, administrative and criminal penalties. Patent applications may be submitted for:
- Utility models
- Industrial designs
Trademarks, Service Marks, and Appellation of Origin of Goods
Under the Russian Trademark Law, trademarks or “service marks” are designations—often in the form of a word, phrase, picture or combination of those elements—that individualizes the offerings of companies, services and individuals. In order to protect these marks as intellectual property, they must be registered with Rospatent or otherwise protected by international agreements. Licensing for trademarks and service marks must also be registered with Rospatent. Although handled somewhat differently, an appellation of origin of goods is similarly registered.
Trade names are protected under the Russian Civil Code, other Russian laws, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Whether or not the trade name has been registered, the owner can use the name and prohibit others from unauthorized use.
Copyrights and Neighboring Rights
The Copyright Law protects scientific and creative works, as well as the rights of performers, producers, and broadcasters. There are no registration requirements, and the work is protected from the time of its creation until 70 years after the owner’s death. This includes rights to:
- Public disclosure
- Public demonstration
- Public performance
Technology-Related Copyrights and Innovation Protection
Computer- and Internet-related intellectual properties often perform crucial functions for modern businesses. Our corporate consultants can help you make informed decisions about how to handle technology-related intellectual property, such as:
- Software programs and databases. Protection of software and databases is covered by the Copyright Law and the Software Law. Registration with Rospatent is optional, and use of a software program may be granted under either an exclusive or non-exclusive license agreement.
- Topologies of integrated microcircuits. Legal protection is granted to original hardware engineering in a similar manner, and voluntary registration with Rospatent is an option. The full or partial property rights may be transferred to others under a written contract.
- Domain names. Domain name are registered in Russia on a first-come, first-serve basis by the Regional Network Information Center (RU-CENTER).
Trade Secrets and Know-How
Many businesses are motivated to protect certain information or processes that are central to their products or services. Under the Russian Civil Code, this kind of information is treated as a “trade secret” if:
- There is potential commercial value in keeping the information confidential.
- There is no free access to it on legal grounds.
- The owner is active in protecting the information.
Employees or third parties that illegally obtain or give out protected trade secrets may be held financially liable.
Make Sure Your Intellectual Property Assets in Russia Are Adequately Protected
Your intellectual property separates you from your competitors and helps you make a name for your business, so it is important to be prepared ahead of time. If you need assistance, call one of our three offices today for a clear, one-on-one discussion of your intellectual property concerns and how our highly skilled corporate attorneys can help you protect your investments in Russia.