In 2013, the public were again focused on intellectual property protection. Following long discussions, an anti-piracy law has finally been adopted allowing access to be blocked to Internet-based information resources hosting illegal audio and video works before any court proceedings are launched, this immediately stirring up heated arguments and discussions. Some have demanded that the law be revoked, others that copyright and neighbouring rights continue to be more vigorously protected on the Internet.
Since the anti-piracy law was adopted, more than a hundred claims for interim relief have been filed with courts, the majority of which have been satisfied.
The law enforcement practice of Roscomnadzor, which helps enforce anti-piracy judicial acts, has quite a unique role now. The elapsed period has demonstrated that Roscomnadzor can, in fact, block access to certain Internet-based information quickly and efficiently.
The number of trade mark disputes continues to rise. The war over old Soviet brands is still going on, especially over those that have been used extensively for confectionery. Competing manufacturers continue their attempts to secure the right to make sweets or biscuits under names that arouse nostalgia.
2013 saw the opening of the Court for Intellectual Property Rights, whose jurisdiction now covers certain categories of IP dispute, as well as reconsideration of lower court decisions on such cases. The fact that a special court has been created for IP disputes is evidence that their high complexity has been recognised and proves the Russian Federation's intention to ensure proper protection of IP rights, including by improving the quality of justice.
Another set of extensive amendments to part four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation can also be described as a significant event in the IP regulatory sphere. On the one hand, these amendments reflect the civil law reforms currently under way all over the word while, on the other, a considerable number of the amendments are intended to secure in the legislation the views and approaches established at case law level, such as in the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation, over the last few years. The new version of part four of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation comes into force on 1 October 2014, amending the provisions specifying liability for infringement of intellectual property rights, introducing new provisions relating to open and free licences and changing the requirements on registration and on the contents of agreements for disposal of intellectual property rights.
In addition to the Civil Code, specific law areas are being developed and made more complicated. These include advertising regulation for certain types of product, such as tobacco and tobacco products, alcohol and medicine.
Serious restrictions and even, at times, complete bans on certain types of product advertising and marketing commonly used for many years prompt businesses and lawyers to seek new solutions and approaches to resolving business challenges.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of the Russian Federation, which, inter alia, monitors compliance with the advertising legislation, continues to initiate quite a few cases relating to violations of the advertising legislation. Disputes with the FAS over improper advertising constitute a considerable part of the commercial disputes in the advertising sphere in general.
Clearly, the dynamic development of the legislation and law enforcement practice in the spheres relating to intangible assets improves the prospects for legal businesses whose interests extend to IP consultations and IP litigations at the FAS, Rospatent and other government authorities.
In addition to conventional areas, such as advisory services on concluding complex international licence agreements and explanations of regulatory provisions of the legislation, new business areas have emerged, such as protection of intellectual property of Internet-based businesses, advice on disputes over data transmission and personal data processing.
There is also a growing interest in complex deals involving technology transfers, where technology is treated as a complex item including a broad range of various intellectual property rights such as patents, know-how, trade marks and copyrighted items. Legal support for especially long projects aimed at setting up and developing high tech production in Russia and elsewhere is now required more frequently.
The development of industrial production and the increased speed at which data are transferred prompt the forecast that, for the next few years, intellectual property will remain one of the fastest growing and fastest changing areas of law and law enforcement practice.
In fact, there is virtually no area of business that would not now be somehow connected with either intangible assets or on-line operations. Twenty or 30 years ago IP legislation was perceived as a complicated and exotic area applicable to narrow spheres only, yet it is now acquiring the status of one of the fundamental spheres of law, equal to, say, realty or competition legislation.
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