Under the current legal provisions, importers are required to
have authorisation from the rights holders when importing goods
into Russia. The RF Civil Code (Article 1487) establishes the
principle of the national exhaustion of trademark rights. This
means that goods which are imported into Russia by the trademark
owner or with his approval are considered legally introduced into
civil circulation. Further use of such goods by other entities does
not violate the exclusive rights to trademarks. Importation of
goods into Russia otherwise violates the rights holder's
exclusive rights to trademarks. Ordinarily, such importation
without permission is deemed to be parallel importation.
Recently, following the Russian Prime Minister's
instructions, various ministries, such as the Ministry of Economic
Development, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry and
Trade, submitted to the Russian Government their suggestions for
allowing parallel importation into Russia of certain products, such
as car parts, pharmaceutical devices and pharmaceuticals, without
the trademark owners' authorisation.
The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) has also recently
provided to the Russian Government its own suggestions to allow
parallel importation of cosmetic, perfumery and hygienic products
as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
All of the above suggestions, so far, have been addressed to the
Russian Government for further consideration and consultations.
Trademark owners with economic interests in Russia might find
this development of concern, especially those who have been relying
on the national principle of rights exhaustion. Such rights holders
who manufacture and import to Russia the products indicated above
may discover that they cannot any longer predict their budgeted
revenues and losses, or continue relying on relatively stable
market share. For them it might also mean a decrease of their
Russian market share and a need to revisit and review their pricing
policies. Conversely, the Russian authorities are likely hoping to
decrease the wholesale and retail prices for the goods suggested
for parallel importation for the benefit of local consumers.
However, for consumers the danger is that questionable quality
goods and even counterfeits may more easily flow into the Russian
It is not clear as to when or whether any of these developments
will be approved by the Russian Government.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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