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Russia: Prokhorovka Battlefield and cultural heritage

From time to time people want to trade on the popularity of certain names. In this case, Businessinvestgroup, a Russian company, filed a word trade mark application (number 2012722575) for ПРОХОРОВСКОЕ ПОЛЕ (Prokhorovka Battlefield) in respect of alcoholic beverages, class 33. The Patent Office refused the registration.

The rejection was based on the consideration that the claimed designation is the name of the state military museum Prokhorovka Battlefield, which includes a belfry tower symbolising the victory and is also part of the memorial complex Prokhorovka Battlefield situated about 1.5 miles from Prokhorovka village commemorating the memory of the greatest tank battle in the summer of 1943 during the World War II. This complex is an object of cultural heritage (number 3100001227). The monument itself was unveiled on the occasion of the 50th victory anniversary of World War II in 1995.

Because of that, argued the Patent Office, the claimed designation cannot be registered as a trade mark in the name of the applicant for goods in class 33 as it contradicts the public interest.

The decision of the Patent Office was appealed at the Chamber of Patent Disputes but the Chamber supported the findings of the examiner.The Chamber also pointed out that granting a monopoly to a non-government entity for the use of a designation being an object of cultural heritage in respect of class 33 would give groundless advantages to the applicant giving him the right to derive profit on the basis of the reputation earned by that cultural object.

The Chamber of Patent Disputes missed a point though, because aside from these considerations, creating an association between the bloodiest battle in history and consumption of alcoholic drinks which in itself is usually associated with merrymaking creates a cynical contrast. This perhaps should have been the main reason for rejection of the claimed designation. This consideration extends far beyond intellectual property and concerns more respect to the nation's history and morals of the people.

Vladimir Biriulin

Gorodissky & Partners
Russia 129010, Moscow
B. Spasskaya Str
25, stroenie 3
Tel: +7 495 937 6116 / 6109
Fax: +7 495 937 6104 / 6123


Article Comments

This decision adds on a new phenomenon to the ongoing debates on the protection of traditional knowledge. Normally it would be asked who owns traditional knowledge? Like these learned practitioners at the patent office, it should be a popular concern to everyone to defend privatisation and financial gain from communities before permission is granted and a potential benefit for such communities is shown. Heads off to these Guys!!!

Mampolokeng Monyakane Jun 11, 2014

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