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Russia: Medieval indulgence resuscitated

It was a good idea to buy indulgence for sins committed in the Middle Ages. As time went on, humankind dropped the idea of buying expiation for money. However the idea survived through the ages and found a new expression in the market economy. The idea lacks inventive level or novelty but some people all the same are lured into believing that there may be something in it. It is like a Ponzi scheme: people plunge into the adventure, come out befooled, some time passes and other people believe they will have a better luck.

Russian IP law introduced the concept of trade name (commercial concession in Russian) in 2008. The owner of a trade name shall have exclusive rights for it if it is known on a certain territory within the Russian Federation. It does not require registration or any other fixation in the official documents. Soon after, one of the Russian patent attorneys concocted a register which he promoted for inclusion of trade names. The certificates which he issued strikingly resembled the certificates for trade marks issued by the real Patent Office which in his opinion added gravitas to the certificate.

Surprisingly, some companies swallowed the bait though the business has not become prosperous. As time went by, there appeared a follower. There is a truth universally acknowledged: certificates for registration of trade marks are valid if they are issued by the Patent Office and registered in the State Trade Mark Register. However this axiom had to be confirmed by court in 2013.

An individual entrepreneur initiated a court action in the commercial court in the Republic of Buryatiya (Siberia) against M-Center Ltd. The claim was to ban the manufacture of products under the name Baikal-M1 in respect of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and dietetic substances for medicinal purposes, and to ban the manufacture of products under the name Tamir in respect of bacterial and biological preparations excepting those for medical and veterinary purposes.

The claimant based his claims on the fact that he is the owner of exclusive rights for the following trade marks:

  • word trade mark 231505 Baikal-M;
  • word trade mark 231507 Tamir; and
  • figurative trademark 208645.

The respondent acknowledged the use of all three trade marks and argued that he was using the trade mark on lawful basis. To support his statements he produced "certificates of registration of intellectual property" numbers 13-08 and 13-09 dated April 18 2013 for combined designations Baikal Fertilizer and Tamir Fertilizer. The certificates had been issued by Intellectual Property NoProblem Ltd – a telling name!

The court concluded that the plaintiff was right in his claims and noted (for those who fell out of time) that trade mark certificates are issued by the Patent Office after registration in the State Register of Trade Marks according to Article 1504 of the Civil Code. It also noted that "certificates of registration of intellectual property" issued by Intellectual Property NoProblem Ltd could be regarded as a practical joke.

What is still missing in the picture are patents to be granted by QuasiPatents Co.

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


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