Why trademarks could be the best way to promote regional brands in Russia

The concept of a brand is built when consumers, other entrepreneurs and competitors associate it with a set of intangible objects, thereby creating an image of a company or person. The Russian government’s policy to promote regional brands in particular – launched in 2017 – has seen success year on year.

There is no legal description of a regional brand in Russian legislation. However, various legal and periodical sources state that a ‘regional brand’ is a selection of objects that provide recognition of a region and foster a demand for goods produced in that territory.

The main purpose of a regional brand is to attract consumer attention to products manufactured in Russia and affiliated countries. This usually includes a number of objects, which allow the consumer to establish the relationship between the region of origin, the product and its special qualities. As there are no restrictions on registering a visual identity to be used as a regional brand, appellations of origin, geographical indications (GIs) and trademarks are all registrable. However, the first two tend to be more common. The reason for this is two-fold:

  • The names of places of origin and GIs can be used simultaneously by an unlimited number of parties that have acquired the appropriate rights.
  • Registration of a visual identity and use in the form of a regional brand are primarily aimed at promoting and popularising local production, and the indication of the territory or native folk crafts is of particular importance in this.

Despite these reasons, trademarks are occasionally registered to distinguish regions. For example, in order to make a number of goods produced in the territory of the Republic of Tatarstan stand out, the Committee for Tourism Development registered a combined trademark, which consists of the verbal element ‘Kazan’, the name of the city, the tourist capital of Tatarstan and the original graphic design before the Russian Patent and Trademark Office. The verbal element falls outside legal protection, but the trademark remains distinctive due to its unique graphic design. Representatives of the Committee for Tourism Development noted that the right to use the mark could then be granted to businesses on a free licence.

Therefore, the advantage of registering a trademark for use as a regional brand is that the rights holder (most often a public agency) can control manufacturing and monitor the quality of the goods that consumers associate with the region by issuing a licence to use the mark.

This is an insight article whose content has not been commissioned or written by the WTR editorial team, but which has been proofed and edited to run in accordance with the WTR style guide.

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