What companies are filings the most trademarks in Russia?

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Insights | 0 comments

Since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine about 1,5 years ago, the number of international trademark applications designating Russia have approximately halved. In the 6-month period before the invasion, there were more than 8000 international trademark registrations designating the Russian federation. Fast forward one year, and in the same period the figure is less than 5000 applications. During the same time, the number of international trademarks designating Ukraine has dropped from 3720 to 2389.

After the invasion, many companies stated that they would voluntarily cease operations in Russia. For example, the French cosmetics company L’Oreal was quick to announce that they would suspend all operations in Russia. Many other companies did the same.

Around the same time, the Russian authorities announced that as a countermeasure, they would suspend the intellectual property protection of Western companies in Russia. In other words, Russian authorities would not prevent a Russian company using Western trademarks like Heineken, L’Oreal or McDonald’s. The Russian authorities also announced that they would allow parallel imports, i.e. genuine products bought in another country and brought to Russia against the trademark owner’s consent.

Despite the suspension of trademark protection and allowing parallel imports, Western companies are still filing for trademark protection in Russia. According to World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) database, Chinese companies are currently filing the most trademark applications in Russia. In fact, the number of new trademark applications originating from China to Russia has not significantly changed. French companies are also still filing a lot of trademarks in Russia. At the same time, for example, new trademarks from the US and German companies have more than halved.

As for individual companies, these are the biggest filers of trademarks since the war began on February 24, 2022.

L’OREAL 113
HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY 100
BERLINCHEMIE AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT 85
APPLE INC 64
HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO LTD 49
BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM INTERNATIONAL GMBH 38
BAYER AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT 38
JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICA NV 37
RICHTER GEDEON NYRT 37
EGIS GYOGYSZERGYAR ZRT 36
KIA CORPORATION 36
ALBAUGH TOVARNA KEMICNIH IZDELKOV DOO 29
OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOY OTVETSTVENNOSTYU EVROTORG 28
MYTHOS STUDIOS LLC 27
GR OPCO LLC 27
BAUSCH HEALTH IRELAND LIMITED 23
GILEAD SCIENCES IRELAND UC 23
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD 22
ASTRAL IP ENTERPRISE LTD 22
HONOR DEVICE CO LTD 21
MIZUNO CORPORATION 21
SYNGENTA CROP PROTECTION AG 20
NINTENDO CO LTD 19
GUERLAIN 19
ABERCROMBIE & FITCH EUROPE SAGL 18
NOVARTIS AG 18
KRKA TOVARNA ZDRAVIL DD NOVO MESTO 18
SOCIETE DES PRODUITS NESTLE SA 17
VIENNA INSURANCE GROUP AG WIENER VERSICHERUNG GRUPPE 17
HERMES INTERNATIONAL 17
DYSON TECHNOLOGY LIMITED 17
SOREMARTEC SA 17
GUANGDONG OPPO MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORP LTD 16
BORA CREATIONS SL 16
EMEIS COSMETICS PTY LTD 15
BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT 15
ENEL SPA 15
DSM IP ASSETS BV 14
GOOGLE LLC 14
INTERVET INTERNATIONAL BV 13
LOUIS VUITTON MALLETIER 13
HUAWEI CLOUD COMPUTING TECHNOLOGIES CO LTD 13
MOOSE CREATIVE MANAGEMENT PTY LTD 13
MERCEDESBENZ GROUP AG 13
ISLESTARR HOLDINGS LIMITED 13
GAIJIN GAMES KFT 13
UPL LIMITED 13
DANFOAM APS 12
ALIBABA CLOUD (SINGAPORE) PRIVATE LIMITED 12

 

Many of these companies have publicly stated that they will stop operations in Russia. If a company does not operate in Russia, and the Russian authorities don’t protect their trademarks there anyway, why are these companies still filing these new trademarks? 

Also, is this compatible with the PR image they are eagerly trying to sell to European consumers about not operating in Russia? Add to that, every trademark application that designates Russia means more revenue for the state to fund its war operations, though all in all the financial impact is completely negligible. Much more important is the symbolic value of these new trademark filings because they signify that these companies still consider the Russian market important for them, or at least important enough to invest in intellectual property protection even in a highly uncertain business environment.

On the other hand, the war will not last forever and companies must make long-term plans and investments. Part of that is the protection of intellectual property. Filing for trademarks in Russia is perhaps part of that plan. Whether or not to file for new trademarks in Russia involves several of difficult questions, such as:

  • Is it ethical to do business in a country that is currently engaged in an illegal war? Many people believe that it is not.
  • Will filing for new trademarks in Russia legitimize the Russian government? By filing for new trademarks, companies are essentially giving the Russian government a seal of approval. 
  • What are the implications for the company’s reputation if it continues to do business in Russia? Many are boycotting Russian products and services, and companies that continue to do business in Russia might face backlash from consumers.
  • What are the legal implications of filing for new trademarks in Russia? It is possible that the Russian government could seize trademarks that are filed by foreign companies. This could have a significant impact on the company’s business, and as said above, steps in this direction have already been taken.
  • The company’s values. Some companies have a strong commitment to social responsibility, and they may feel that it is not in line with their values to continue doing business in Russia.

Ultimately, it is for every company to decide what’s best for them. The company executives and directors have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their shareholders. What that means in terms of investing in Russia, may change from company to company, but at least for now, it seems that many companies are taking the view that protecting their brands in Russia is important, while at the same publicly distancing themselves from any business dealings there.

See related posts:
How does Russia’s attack against Ukraine affect intellectual property?
Russia’s latest IP trick: parallel imports

 

 

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