Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 04/06/2023

The Russia-Ukraine War: Trademarks One Year Later

In April 2022, World Trademark Review Weekly published an article speculating what the impact increasing Western sanctions on Russia would have on international brands. At the time, the Ministry of Economic Development implied that it may no longer aid non-domestic trademark holders, including doing away with civil liability for trademark infringement. That implication and the rise of Russian trademark applications targeted at non-native brands led the author to believe bad faith trademark filings may be on the horizon, directly attacking quality brands with strong reputations.

One year later, Rospatent (the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property) has seen an influx of bad-faith trademark filings, particularly those that trade off of famous Western companies and brands, including Nike, adidas, Puma, Levi’s, BMW, Audi, Maserati, Zara, and Lamborghini. Given that some of these companies have ceased formal distribution to Russia and Russia has seemingly de-prioritized Western IP enforcement, it is becoming increasingly difficult to police non-Russian brands.

Alternatively, some brands have decided to essentially cut their losses by selling their Russian IP assets. After pulling out of Russia entirely, McDonald’s sold all its Russian assets to a local licensee, who agreed to operate them under a new brand. Despite the new branding, the restaurants operate with a menu, layout, and business model that is identical to that of the original famous double arches. Now, the Russian company is preparing to roll out its own version of the Happy Meal, investing in toy factories to produce the toys to be included. But given the current conflict, the Russian company was unable to license with any Western companies for the toys and will instead use Russian characters. So while the original company has divested its Russian assets, the new owner is also facing increasing difficulties operating the new brand.

At only a year past the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, it remains to be seen what the long-term effects on trademarks and enforcement will be for both Russian and non-Russian entities. Regardless, continued close monitoring of trademarks would be wise for those continuing to operate in Russia or those contemplating starting new ventures there.

In This Article

You May Also Like