GI bill passes first hurdle in Russia

On 27 July 2018 the Russian State Duma passed the first reading of a draft bill entitled “On amendments to Part Four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation (on geographical indications)” (GI).

As part of the legislative process, a bill has to undergo three readings at the Russian State Duma before it comes into force. Comments may be received and amendments can be introduced up to the second reading.

The GI bill aims to fulfil Russia’s World Trade Organisation obligations under Articles 22 and 23 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which requires protection for GIs. Previous protection for appellations of origin in Russia will continue to exist but GI status will be easier to obtain under the new regime, as only one part of the production process that gives the product its special qualities or reputation will have to be attributed to a geographical location.

There will be two routes for obtaining GI protection:

  • For new GI – by filing an application directly with the Russian Patent and Trademark Office (Rospatent).
  • For GI previously registered in the country of product’s origin – by filing the registration certificate and accompanying documents with Rospatent.

However, according to the bill, earlier registered appellations of origin cannot be converted into GIs for the same type of goods and vice versa.

In 2014 Russia imposed a ban on the import of food products from Europe, the United States and abroad. Because previously imported foods such as cheeses and meats were no longer available, Russian manufacturers began to fill that gap with their own locally produced substitutes. It was all the more tempting for these producers to adopt descriptors from famous regions such as Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Edam, Parma and Port – as a consequence, these names have become commonplace in shops in Russia.

What will these changes mean for businesses?

  • a new type of protection may be required for products in Russia;
  • there will be a more accessible means of IP protection with regard to geographical origin when compared to appellations of origin;
  • there will be new ways to stop the sale of knock-offs and products that are misleading in terms of their place of origin.

The bill is currently undergoing further amendment in preparation for its second reading.

There is a unique chance to submit comments to members of Parliament. There is no formal call for submissions. Comments may be submitted informally by any individual stakeholder or brand associations.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of IAM's co-published content. Read more on Insight

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