Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law
In February 2022, Russia infamously invaded Ukraine, starting an unprovoked war. As a result, many foreign companies left their Russia-based operations, including most luxury fashion houses. In these remarks, we elaborate on the possible issues that these companies may face regarding the enforcement of their IP rights in Russia, particularly trademark rights, following their departure resulting from the sanctions imposed by Western countries.
At the time of writing, perhaps the most pressing issue is whether luxury fashion houses risk losing their trademark rights in Russia due to their decision to suspend their operations, even though temporarily. An additional issue facing luxury fashion houses is the recent flurry of applications submitted to the Russian IP Office (Rospatent) for signs identical or similar to their registered marks. Based on Russian law, Rospatent should reject these applications directly or following the opposition of luxury fashion houses. This said, it cannot be excluded that Rospatent would accept these applications. Likewise, it cannot be excluded that Russian courts will continue to use the “unfriendly” countries reasoning against claims of trademark infringement by foreign IP holders as in a recent case involving the Peppa Pig cartoon.
Of course, trademark law is a subject of much lesser concern compared to the loss of lives, destruction of cities, and refugee’s crisis resulting from the war. Still, this is an additional demonstration of the dangers of not respecting established legal norms. Luxury fashion houses decided to suspend their operation because of their position against the war but also due to supply chain disruptions and the impossibility to process payments in foreign currency. Their temporary departure does not violate any IP principles. Now, these companies find themselves entangled in an IP war, in which Russia threatens to disrergard the international and national rules to which the country committed. Yet, this outcome is not unavoidable. Russian IP judges, Rospatent’s trademark examiners, and Russian IP lawyers should uphold the existing legal principles. This course of action is in the best interest of the rule of law and Russia itself.
Harvard Law School
Irene Calboli & Vera Sevastianova,
Fashion in the Times of War: The Recent Exodus of Luxury Brands from Russia and What It Means for Trademark Law,
Harv. J. Sports & Ent. L.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/facscholar/1658