Possibility of individuals filing trademark applications on the horizon
Under Article 1478 of the Russian Civil Code, only legal entities or individual entrepreneurs may own the exclusive rights to a trademark in Russia. In accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 1477, “an exclusive right certified by a trademark certificate (Article 1481 hereof) is recognized for the trademark, i.e., a designation serving for individualizing goods of legal entities or individual entrepreneurs”. Similarly, service marks are used to individualise and distinguish the services provided and the scope of persons entitled to file an application is similar.
However, a significant increase in the number of people who are self-employed in Russia – largely caused by the covid-19 pandemic – has confirmed the need to amend this legislation. In this regard, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation has made the relevant draft law available on its official website.
The draft law is due to be submitted to the Russian government in May 2021 and presumably to the State Duma in the third quarter of the year. Thus, it is likely that positive changes will be made to the Russian Trademark Law in 2022.
At present, an individual’s ability to register a trademark is limited in the following cases:
- Individuals who own trademarks in other countries are prohibited from registering a trademark in Russia if they are not an individual entrepreneur.
- An individual that has created a mark is not able to transfer it under a contract of alienation to the manufacturer of goods or service supplier.
- Ownership cannot be transferred through inheritance in case of the death of an individual entrepreneur. In the case of inheritance, there is a legal conflict; the heirs are entitled to the trademark rights, but they cannot use them until they are qualified as individual entrepreneurs.
- Since 2019 the category of ‘self-employed’ has existed for individuals who provide services without being registered as an individual entrepreneur. However, such individuals have been deprived of the opportunity to register service marks to individualise the services rendered.
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