Successful economic development depends to a large extent on innovation. Countries where many inventions are created and patented are leaders in the global economy. In turn, intellectual property is the basis of innovative development. Like any property it needs to be protected. "Gorodissky & Partners" law firm is the largest and one of the oldest Russian companies in the field of intellectual property. Its lawyers and patent attorneys started their practice in 1959. Th e firm is well known all over the world, it is among 10 largest law fi rms in Europe and has a wide network of branches in different regions of Russia. Vladimir Biriulin, Russian Patent Attorney, Head of Special Projects, Deputy Managing Partner of "Gorodissky & Partners" law firm, told our publication about the mechanism of IP owners' interests protection.
– Vladimir Ivanovich, what can you say about the extent to which intellectual property is protected in Russia today?
– Russia is a country with a wealth of intellectual potential. The legal mechanism for the protection of intellectual property (IP) owners in our country is welldeveloped and all issues have been resolved legislatively, both in the registration of IP and in the protection of owners' rights. Since 2013 there is a specialized Intellectual Rights Court, which over the years has accumulated great experience to deal with conflicts in this area. Commercial courts are also highly competent in settling IP conflicts... The number of trademark applications, applications for patents for inventions and industrial designs increases every year in Russia. Unfortunately, the commercialization of intellectual property is not very well developed. In my opinion, our businesses do not yet have sufficient understanding that patents and other IP can be a source of great profit. For example, a valuable invention will undoubtedly bring in revenue, and a lot of it, if you sell the license to use it. That is why, of course, we would like to see more activity from businesses in the sphere of commercialization of intellectual property.
– And what prevents this from happening?
– I think one of the reasons is that the implementation of inventions is quite "long term money" and not everyone is willing to invest in order to benefit in the distant future. In addition, the implementation of inventions is a risky business, not always what is planned succeeds. In addition, many companies today are experiencing financial difficulties and are not ready to invest in IP. However, it should be understood that the value of intangible objects in many innovative global companies today even exceeds the value of tangible objects. In Russia, this trend is not yet so pronounced, but there are already companies with very expensive intangible assets, for example, in the oil sector, and if we talk about strategic business planning, of course this risk is justified.
– How common are violations of intellectual property rights in Russia today? How often do people come to you with these problems?
– Intellectual property infringement is a common phenomenon all over the world; it's not specific to our country. We have enough work to do, because the company has competences in the entire spectrum of jurisdictions related to intellectual property, from registration and registration at the patent offices to support and defense in court. We handle about 150 to 200 lawsuits a year (including administrative and civil). About 75% of them are successful. In addition to the protection of intellectual property rights, we are also dealing with related issues – protection of information and personal data, taxation in the field of intellectual property, as these issues are closely intertwined with the protection of intellectual property rights.
If we talk about Russian specifics in the field of intellectual property, today in our country there is much less registration of rights to inventions than there is registration of trademarks. Accordingly, there are far fewer court cases involving violations of rights to inventions than cases involving violations of rights to use trademarks. Unfortunately, still not all manufacturers register their trademarks in time, so they can be encroached upon and registered by "pirates". A trademark is a dynamic object, it can be registered quickly, and for potential violators, there is a great temptation to take advantage of it. We can deprive the pirates of their illegal rights to the trademark through the courts, and the rightful owners often get a decent refund from the infringer, but it is quite a complicated process and much less troublesome and financially more profitable to do everything in time. Inventions, of course, also need to be registered.
I should note that sometimes we are able to resolve all issues in pre-trial proceedings as well. If we notice a violation of our clients' rights, sometimes it's enough to write a letter to the violator and he or she will stop the violation. Otherwise, we have to go to court.
– With the development of technology, how much easier has it become to take advantage of someone else's intellectual property?
– The Internet provides virtually unlimited opportunities for content distribution, so there are many abuses and offenses related to the unlawful use of intellectual property, including trademarks and copyrights, and the count goes into the thousands. The company has a special unit that deals with tracking copyright infringement on the Internet. We draw our clients' attention to infringement of their rights, and further action depends on the position of the rights holder.
– How aware do you think our businesses are of the commercial opportunities of intellectual property?
– Unfortunately, not enough. We do a lot of educational work in this area. In 2022 alone, which is still underway, we held more than 100 different events with speeches by our employees. We publish explanatory articles on various aspects of intellectual property. This year we published more than three dozen articles in the Russian press and dozens in the foreign press.
I am sure the government can be more active in this process, helping enterprises register their inventions and then commercialize them. Naturally, in return they would get the right to ask companies what has been done and how the invention is being used. This would be beneficial to both sides. The state would allocate additional funding for the development of scientific potential, and companies would get a new incentive to develop and introduce new technologies.
– What do you think is more effective for business now – to seek intellectual property services from outside law firms or to act independently?
– Large companies have their own patent workers who deal with patenting inventions and registering trademarks, but it seems to me that it is better to go to a professional company, because if the firm on a daily basis is engaged in registration of rights and their protection, it has a lot of experience and it knows how to act in the most difficult situations. By the way, these services are not so expensive, the losses can be much more. For example, to get a patent for an invention today is easy enough – in the public domain there are guidelines on how to do this, but if, for example, the claims are drafted incorrectly an infringer can think up how to bypass the patent, and the owner can incur heavy losses, because he can not protect his rights.
At the same time, today we are the only law firm in Russia that operates in the field of IP in accordance with the requirements of international standard ISO 9001:2015, we confirm it every year, which guarantees high quality of services and compliance with global quality management standards.
– How relevant in today's environment is IP protection in international activities?
– Despite the changes that are taking place in the economy, in business relations, the issue is still relevant. This is a two-way process, and among our clients there have always been and still are many foreign firms doing business in Russia using their technology These technological solutions must be protected from unfair use. So despite the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, protection of foreign companies' IP rights is in full effect. Some time ago the Western media started writing a lot about the fact that IP of foreign companies is not protected, that whoever wants can use trademarks and inventions – this is not true, we have done and are doing a lot of work to disavow such insinuations. International business cannot develop without the protection of IP rights, its effective development would simply become impossible.
Originally Published by Russian Business Guide by Busines DIALOG Media 32/195, September 2022
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