New developments in civil law in the area of intellectual property

19 July 2022
Law Messenger
Federal Law No. 193-FZ of 28 June 2022 "On Amendments to Part Four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation" ("the Federal Law"), which will enter into force on 29 June 2023, extends the range of holders of exclusive rights in a trademark and establishes mandatory registration of a pledge of exclusive rights in a registered computer programme or database.
New categories of trademark rights holders

The nature of trademarks is directly tied to commercial objectives: they serve to individualise goods, work and services. For a long time, the Russian regulatory framework has only allowed commercial entities, i.e., legal entities and individual entrepreneurs, to be rights holders of trademarks.

The Federal Law extends the range of holders of exclusive rights in trademarks. Once the new rules take effect, any person, including private citizens, will be able to become a rights holder. In terms of practical implementation, however, there are certain points which may need to be considered.

A citizen does not have to be engaged in particular activities or have any special status in order to register a trademark. At the same time, it remains illegal to carry on entrepreneurial activities without registration. This means that an individual planning to use a trademark in his activities must either have the status of an individual entrepreneur or carry on specialised activities that do not require that status — for example, he may be self-employed or work as a lawyer or a notary. Also, if an individual registers a trademark without intending to use it in any activities or fails to use a registered trademark, legal protection of the mark may be terminated early by reason of non-use.

Nevertheless, the change in the law certainly has a number of positive implications. Firstly, whereas previously a trademark was deprived of legal protection if the holder lost the status of an individual entrepreneur, this will no longer be the case once the amendments come into force: legal protection will end only when the rights holder dies. Secondly, the amendments mean that a person who has inherited exclusive rights in a trademark and does not have the status of an individual entrepreneur will not be obliged to obtain that status or alienate the exclusive rights in the trademark within a year of the succession date.
Registration of a pledge of exclusive rights in a registered computer programme or database

Under current law, registering computer programmes and databases in Russia is optional: these intellectual property assets are automatically protected from the moment they are created, but the rights holders can choose to register them with Rospatent. However, when a computer programme or database is registered with Rospatent, any transfer of exclusive rights is also subject to state registration. The Federal Law makes an addition to this provision to the effect that any pledge of exclusive rights in a registered computer programme or database would likewise have to be registered. It should be pointed out that this change will not affect the register of domestic software, and information on the pledging of computer programmes or databases will be contained only in the register maintained by Rospatent.

B1 Group’s specialists have extensive knowledge and expertise in the field of intellectual property. Thanks to its long experience of providing wide-ranging services and advice in that area, our team is well-positioned to provide comprehensive support in planning the optimal structure of ownership and management of intellectual property assets, including in light of the forthcoming changes in Russian civil law, and to advise on all issues that may arise in this regard.

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