Russian Federation: Russian Court Says Parallel Importation Is Legal

Last Updated: 18 January 2018
Article by David Aylen

On December 13, 2017, the Arbitration Court of Moscow declared that a warning notice issued by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) against KYB Corporation (KYB) was justifiable and would not be struck down. According to information published on its own webpage in July 2017, the FAS had issued a warning to Renault, KYB, YD-Diagnostics and one other. The warning suggested that these organizations were in breach of Russian anti-monopoly laws because they had unreasonably refused, when asked on a case by case basis, to consent to parallel importation of goods (see 

KYB chose to attack the warning notice in the Arbitration (Commercial) Court of Moscow. KYB's attack was a logical move because Russia is regarded as being a national (regional) exhaustion of rights country. Under Part IV of the Civil Code there is trademark infringement by anyone who introduces goods into commerce in Russia, without consent of the owner of the registered trademark. Until now, it was always thought that only the brand owner and its licensees could legally import gray goods into Russia.

In deciding that the FAS warning letter would not be struck down, the Court acknowledged the provisions in question in the Civil Code. However the Court went to great lengths to exclude parallel importation from the ambit of the provisions.

In its detailed judgment, the Court began by acknowledging the traditional approach that has been applied to the interpretation of the legislation:

This provision of the Civil Code..., implies that when foreign-made goods are acquired in the territory of other states directly from the manufacturer or his representatives, it is necessary to have permission of the right holder (execution of a license contract) in order to obtain the right for importing and marketing such goods to/in the territory of the Russian Federation.

...[KYB] points out that his actions constitute the [proper] exercise of the trademark owner's rights, provided for by the RF Civil Code.

The Court then pointed out that, in its view, the real object of these provisions was to prohibit acts that were likely to cause confusion:

...according to Article 1484.2 and Article 1477.1 of the Code, a trademark right is exercised for the individualization of goods of legal order to distinguish goods and services of one manufacturer from goods and services of another manufacturer.

Thus, Article 1484.3 of the RF Civil Code defines an infringement of the trademark right as use of the designations similar to said trademark without permission of the right holder in respect of goods for the individualization of which the trademark is registered, or homogeneous goods, if as a result of such use a likelihood of confusion may arise....

The Court then distinguished parallel importation and said that it was not actionable because no confusion or damage to the brand owner is caused:

Under these circumstances, importation of such goods to the Russian Federation does not cause any confusion of the original right holder's goods and goods imported by an independent business entity ("parallel importer"), and does not comprise objective features of a threat to public interests, since these are goods of the same manufacturer (right holder), which are imported and offered for sale, without providing misrepresentations about the manufacturer or the right holder of the individualization means these goods are labeled by...

The provisions of Article 1515 of the RF Civil Code are meant to prevent importation of illegally acquired or manufactured goods labeled by the manufacturer's trademark, since they qualify as counterfeit those goods, labels, packaging of goods that are illegally labeled by the trademark or by confusingly similar designations.

However, as obvious from the submitted materials, the intent was to import the original goods of the right holder, legally acquired from one of the official dealers; therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the manufacturer's rights to receive monetary compensation for the goods are respected, and there is no threat to the brand reputation as a result of the actions for altering (decreasing the quality of goods).

In view of the foregoing, the actions of KYB Corporation for limiting importation by other parties of the goods legally acquired outside the territory of Russia from the right holder's dealers, of legally manufactured automotive spare parts and components, legally labeled by the trademarks of foreign right holders, have the purpose to increase its profits by limiting the earnings of potential competitors and crowding them out from the market.

Acts that are intended to curb parallel importation, the Court said, are therefore a form of unfair competition:

These actions conflict with the principles of integrity, reasonableness and fairness and, generally, are contrary to individual, collective and public rights and legitimate interests of the civil circulation participants; and therefore, comprise the elements of unfair competition.

Although the Court's analysis seems logical, the analysis omitted to compare Articles 1484.2 and 1484.3 and the purpose of each. Article 1484.3, which formed the basis of the Court's opinion, deals only with a trademark that is not identical to a registered trademark, but still may be found to be confusing. However Article 1484.3 and the question of confusion under that Article should not apply when it is the identical mark that is in question; Article 1484.2 applies.

Article 1484.2 deals with the exclusive right of the trademark owner to use the identical trademark; it provides to the trademark owner the exclusive right to deal with those goods. That includes the right to introduce such goods in to civil commerce in Russia. Confusion is not at the heart of Article 1484.2.   

The refusal to strike out the warning letter was likely the correct one. However the reasons given for the refusal were likely the incorrect reasons.

KYB has filed an appeal on January 12, 2018.

Coincidentally, the Constitutional Court of Russia also recently heard argument on the same issue from a constitutional perspective and a decision is expected soon.

Parallel importation has been a hot topic in Russia and in the Eurasian Economic Union for some time. Legislators indicated in 2017 that there was a move afoot to introduce industry exceptions for parallel importation in sectors such as automotive, pharmaceutical and medical devices. But legislative change takes time and the best estimate was that it might take at least another 18 months, possibly two years or even longer to implement the industry exceptions approach.

If the KYB decision is upheld and if the Constitutional Court decision is aligned with it, parallel importation may become entirely legal in Russia.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
26 Sep 2019, Seminar, London, UK

Providing GCs, Heads of Legal and senior in-house lawyers with timely, topical and practical legal advice on a variety of topics.

8 Oct 2019, Seminar, Birmingham, UK

Supporting the development of paralegals, trainees and lawyers of up to five years' PQE by providing valuable knowledge and guidance together with practical tips.

10 Oct 2019, Seminar, London, UK

Supporting the development of paralegals, trainees and lawyers of up to five years' PQE by providing valuable knowledge and guidance together with practical tips.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions