Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia ratify Eurasian Economic Union Treaty; Armenia to join union

International

The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, signed on May 29 2014 by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, was ratified by the parliaments of these countries in the first half of October and will come into force on January 1 2015, establishing a new form of political and economic union among the Customs Union members.

In addition, on October 10 2014 the Agreement on Armenia's Accession to the Eurasian Economic Union was signed by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia on the one hand, and Armenia on the other. Armenia will become a member of the union upon ratification of the agreement by its parliament, but not earlier than January 2 2015.

Among the many issues governed by the treaty are the general principles of IP rights protection in the Eurasian Economic Union. Chapter 23 of the treaty contains provisions on the harmonisation of the national legislation in the area of IP protection and cooperation between the parties for the purposes of the protection of IP rights, including the establishment of effective customs measures and of a unitary customs register of IP rights. Moreover, the members of the Eurasian Economic Union have agreed to introduce a system of trademarks and service marks of the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as of appellations of origin.

The treaty contains the list of international agreements on IP protection to which the members of the Eurasian Economic Union should be party, but also allows the members of the union to implement a higher level of protection of IP rights than that prescribed in these agreements.

The general provisions of Chapter 23 are further elaborated in Annex 26 to the treaty, the Protocol on the Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights. The protocol provides minimum standards of IP protection for copyright and related rights, trademarks and service marks, geographical indications and appellations of origin, patents, selection inventions, topographies of integral circuits and know-how.

In addition, the protocol elaborates on the introduction of the trademarks and service marks of the Eurasian Economic Union (thereafter the 'union trademarks'), which are regional trademark rights valid in the territories of all the members of the Eurasian Economic Union. The union trademarks will coexist with the national trademarks registered in the union members. The first drafts of the Agreement on the Union Trademark were prepared in 2012 and 2013, but there has been little progress since (in fact, the latest draft on the website of the Eurasian Economic Union dates from May 16 2013).

Finally, the protocol establishes the regime of regional exhaustion of trademark rights both for the national trademarks of union members and for the union trademark. Currently, out of the members of the Eurasian Economic Union, only Belarus has implemented the regime of regional exhaustion of trademark rights in its national legislation.

The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union and the Protocol on the Protection and Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights are considered to be a positive development towards the harmonisation of the national regimes of IP protection in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. The treaty introduces a few novelties such as the system of the union trademarks and appellations of origin, and confirms the application of the regime of regional exhaustion of trademark rights, which will require additional developments at union level, as well as the implementation of these novelties at the national level.

Taras Kulbaba, PETOŠEVIĆ, Brussels

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