Russia to allow its businesses to steal patents from ‘unfriendly countries’

Russian officials have raised the possibility of lifting restrictions on some trademarks. (Credits: Reuters)

Russia is reportedly legalising patent theft from anyone affiliated with countries ‘unfriendly’ to it.

The decree, issued this week, follows the barrage of sanctions levied by the West on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. 

The US and UK have since pulled out of Russia’s huge oil and gas industry. Major companies have shut down services in the country either partially or entirely including: PayPal, TikTok, Netflix, Spotify, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Apple, Zara, Coca-Cola, Shell, Ikea, Prada etc. 

In response, Russian officials have raised the possibility of lifting restrictions on some trademarks, according to state media, which could allow continued use of brands.

This means that Russian businesses could operate using trademarked names of companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks that have left Russia.

On Tuesday, McDonald’s announced that it was temporarily closing 850 branches accross Russia. The fast food chain reportedly generated 9%of its revenue from Russia and Ukraine. 

This means that Russian businesses could operate using trademarked names of companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks that have left Russia. (Credits: EPA)

The Ministry of Economic Development of Russia is reportedly discussing the removal of restrictions on the use of intellectual property on a number of goods. This is a temporary measure for the period of supply restrictions, as was told in the press service of the Ministry of Economic Development.

‘The possibility of lifting restrictions on the use of intellectual property contained in certain goods, the supply of which to Russia is limited, is being considered. This will smooth out the impact on the market of breaks in supply chains, as well as the shortage of goods and services that arose due to new sanctions by Western countries,’ said in the ministry.

The move will reportedly affect companies that have ‘not fulfilled contractual and other obligations’ to Russia. 

‘The measure will allow, on the one hand, to organize the production and use of technologies that were presented in products that Western companies were deprived of our citizens, on the other hand, the measure legalizes the import of such products from third countries,’ the Ministry of Economic Development explained.

Experts say that the effect of losing patent protections will vary by company depending on whether they have a valuable patent in Russia. The US government has long warned of intellectual property rights violations in the country. 

Coca-Cola and Pepsi have suspended business in Russia (Credits: Getty)

Last year Russia was among nine nations on a ‘priority watch list’ for alleged failures to protect intellectual property. Now Russian entities could not be sued for damages if they use certain patents without permission.

The patent decree and any further lifting of intellectual property protections could affect Western investment in Russia well beyond any de-escalation of the war in Ukraine, Josh Gerben, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington told the Washington Post.

‘It’s just another example of how [Putin] has forever changed the relationship that Russia will have with the world,’ Gerben told the Post.

Russia’s decree would remove protections for patent holders who are registered, do business in or hold nationalities of contries it considered countries.

This case of removal of intellectual property protections during wartime is not without precedent. Smithsonian Magazine describes how the German company Bayer lost its American patent on aspirin as the US government seized property from firms associated with its enemies.


MORE : Lush suspends supplies to Russia but ‘blocked from closing stores’


MORE : UK sanctions another 400 people for backing Putin’s war against Ukraine



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