Gillette Case will help clarify amended Trademarks Law

Russian Federation

The Gillette Company, the US consumer products giant, has filed a lawsuit against the registered owner of the 'gillette.ru' domain name - Moscow-based Kameo. Gillette asserts that Kameo is guilty of trademark infringement and is demanding that the Russian company cease using the disputed domain name.

Kameo is a licensed distributor of Gillette goods and registered 'gillette.ru' to use for a website devoted to reporting on Gillette's activities, including information about the company and its products. Kameo is expected to defend itself by claiming that it has a legitimate interest in the domain name and is making bona fide use of it.

Although the Russian courts have tended to protect the rights of trademark owners, deciding to order the transfer of domain names such as 'kodak.ru', 'coca-cola.ru' and 'nivea.ru', the Russian government has yet to establish clear rules on the use of trademarks in domain names. Amendments made to the Russian Trademarks Law in December 2002 provide that "the unauthorized use of a trademark on the Internet or within a domain name with respect to the goods or services for which the mark is registered" amounts to unlawful use. However, the legislation does not expressly prohibit the use of trademarks in association with websites of companies that distribute goods manufactured by the trademark owner. Thus, the outcome of this case is eagerly awaited as it will clarify the scope of the December 2002 amendments.

The preliminary hearing is expected to take place before the end of the month.

Magdalena Sekula and Pavel Arievich, Gowlings International Inc, Moscow

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