Russia - Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property

Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

In any foreign market, companies should consider several general principles for effective management of their intellectual property.  For background on these principles please visit our article on Protecting Intellectual Property, and our article on corruption.

In 2019, Russia remained on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Priority Watch List, an annual report on countries that engage in substantial intellectual property rights (IPR) violations.  Several general principles are important for U.S. companies to effectively manage IP in Russia.  First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect IP.  Second, IP is protected differently in Russia than in the United States.  Stemming from this, companies need to ensure that their IP is registered in Russia for their rights to be enforceable under Russian law.

U.S. firms should take proactive steps to protect their intellectual property in Russia, including registering their trademarks with the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) and having the patents recorded in the Russian Federal Customs Service’s IP Register.  It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. Government generally cannot enforce rights on behalf of private individuals in Russia.  While the U.S. Government is willing to assist, there is little recourse if the right holder has not taken the fundamental steps necessary to secure and enforce its IPR.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners as reliable business partners can be important allies in protecting IP rights.  The Commercial Service in Russia can produce a due diligence report to assist in this effort.  Additionally, allowing a business to register your IP rights on your behalf warrants careful consideration.  Doing so may create a risk that a partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights when the partnership concludes.  It may be advisable to closely evaluate cost structure of your business in Russia; high margins may be good for profits, but can sometimes incentivize would-be bad actors to target your IP.  Projects and sales in Russia require constant attention.  As with all partnerships, U.S. companies are advised to work with legal counsel familiar with Russian law to create robust contracts that include non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

U.S. businesses are encouraged to contact the U.S. Commercial Service for a list of law firms that may be able to assist you with registering your intellectual property.

It is also advisable for small- and medium-sized companies to work with trade associations and other non-governmental as well as governmental organizations to support their efforts at IPR protection.  Some such these organizations based in the United States and Russia including:
•              American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (AmCham)
•              National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
•              International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
•              International Trademark Association (INTA)
•              Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
•              International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
•              Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
•              Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
•              Russian Anti-Piracy Organization (RAPO) (represents the Motion Picture Association of America)
•              National Federation of Music Industry (NFMI)
•              Russian Software Association (Russoft)
•              Association of Branded Goods Manufacturers in Russia (RusBrand)
•              Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent)
•              Russian Federal Customs Service
•              Russian Ministry of the Interior, Economic Security Department

More detailed information on IPR issues in Russia is provided in the U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement (a subsequent chapter of this Country Commercial Guide).

IP Resources
A wealth of information on protecting IPR is available to U.S. rights holders:

•              For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues -- including enforcement issues in the United States and other countries -- call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or register at http://www.stopfakes.gov/Also see the specific IP snapshot about Russia.
•              For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the United States as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199.
•              For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959; http://www.copyright.gov/