by Vladimir Biriulin
Russian law now has the
trappings of adequate protection for intellectual property (IP), from
registration to protection of rights. IP rights are protected by the police,
the customs authorities at the borders, and by IP owners bringing civil
actions. The Chamber of Patent Disputes (under the Patent Office) and a
government anti-monopoly body that deals with unfair IP competition also help
to resolve IP conflicts. Decisions made by these two entities can be appealed
to a court. Basically, the judicial system operates satisfactorily, or nearly
so. The courts are busy with IP cases and issue competent judgments, but it has
always been felt by IP practitioners and owners that the system is incomplete.
The Court System. There are two branches of courts: the courts of
general jurisdiction (common courts) and arbitration (commercial) courts.
Common courts examine all kinds of cases from divorces to robberies. IP cases
are on the periphery of their attention and the number of IP cases which they
examine is relatively small. Common courts do examine IP cases between parties
where at least one person is an individual. Among all intellectual property
matters, private persons can only have patents and copyright, so that conflicts
in these fields go to common courts, where there is an individual party. This
also means that all the trademark cases, which account for about 80 per cent of
all IP cases in all the courts, go to the arbitration courts. This is because
trademarks can only be registered in the name of legal persons and private
entrepreneurs. Individual entrepreneurs are on equal footing in court with
This volume of trademark cases also means that the arbitration courts have more
practice, and consequently competence, in IP than do the common courts.
Arbitration courts also examine all kinds of economic disputes, however, and so
cannot concentrate solely on intellectual property. In order to have a more
focused approach to resolving intellectual property disputes, the Moscow
Arbitration Court created a special team of judges to oversee these cases. That
specialization immediately showed positive results. This solution, however, is not
practical for every arbitration court in the country.
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Biriulin is a partner and chief of the legal department at Gorodissky &
Partners in Moscow. Mr. Biriulin counsels clients on Russian and foreign
intellectual property law, international IP treaties, conventions, and
agreements, technology transfer and licensing, infringement, unfair
competition, and copyrights. He also litigates IP cases. Mr. Biriulin lectures
in Russia and abroad, and regularly publishes on IP matters.