Draft bill looks set to introduce geographical indications to Russia

A draft bill to amend Part 4 of the Russian Civil Code will introduce the concept of geographical indications (GIs) into Russian law, which will help to protect folk crafts as well as to support local manufacturers.

GIs as a means of individualisation are not usually compared with popular trademarks in this field, but rather with designations of origin of goods (DOs), which are less commonly registered in Russia. This is because:

  • both types of designation indicate the name of the geographical subject matter, which determines the specific characteristics of the product;
  • GIs use the name (or derivative thereof) of the territory as the product’s place of manufacture;
  • it is permissible for an unlimited number of people to use one means of individualisation, where they have obtained the right to use the designation independently from one other; and
  • there is less of an emphasis on fanciful and distinctive characters in GIs and DOs, as these designations are designed to form an association in the consumer’s mind between the peculiarities of the product and the geography of the place of origin.

Differences between GIs and DOs

Examples of GIs are Russian caviar, Kamchatka crab and Penza maple syrup. Examples of DOs are Russian vodka, Volga butter and Bashkir honey. The differences between the two designations are given below.

The designation claimed for in the registration

The protection of any designation that associates a product with its place of origin should be registered under a GI. Only the word designation – including the name of the geographical subject matter – can be registered as a DO.

The degree of popularity of the means of individualisation

When filing an application for a GI, the product and the territory of origin should be identifiable. For DOs on the other hand, it is important that the designation becomes recognisable as a result of its use with regard to the product.

The product’s characteristics

In order to grant legal protection for a GI, the applicant must attach the information about the quality, reputation and other specific indicators of the products determined by the place of origin. With regard to DOs, it is necessary to describe the special properties of the product only.

The degree of the manufacture location within the geographical territory

To register a designation as a GI, it is sufficient to have only one manufacturing stage located within the specified territory. For example, the raw materials can be brought for processing with the use of traditional regional methods or crops grown on territory with unique and favourable climatic conditions can be processed at a plant in an industrial zone. Conversely, when applying to obtain the right to use a DO, it is a prerequisite that all stages of the manufacture stages be located in the specified geographical area.

Documents confirming the relationship between the product’s exclusive characteristics and the place of origin

To register a GI, the applicant must independently provide information to confirm the particular qualities, indicators and reputation of the product and how these depend on the location of the manufacture. To obtain a registration for a DO, a report from the authorised federal or regional authority confirming that the applicant manufactures the product with the specific characteristics on the territory of the specified geographical subject matter is required.


Overall, registering the subject matter as a GI is more accessible and easier for manufacturers. The introduction of the institution of geographical indications will lead to an increase in applicant’s activity as well as to the number of registered designations for names of Russian locations.

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

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