Russia anti-counterfeiting news: the Yaroslavl Customs Seminar

4 minute read
01 August 2015

Each year, the Russian Federal Customs Service convenes at least three anti-counterfeiting seminars at customs border points across Russia. Brand owners - particularly those who have recorded their marks with Customs - are welcome to attend to highlight new or unique counterfeiting problems they are facing.

Overall, these anti-counterfeiting seminars provide an effective platform for brand owners to educate and motivate customs officials, and to learn about the challenges other brand owners are experiencing.

The Gowlings Russia/CIS anti-counterfeiting team is an active participant in these seminars. Our objectives are to:

  • Maintain strong lines of communication with customs officials and police
  • Advocate for the interests of our clients
  • Stay current with regards to procedural and substantive changes in the law
  • Hear from representatives across a variety of sectors on the problems they are facing
  • Keep on top of the sanctions-related issues currently facing the industry

Yaroslavl Seminar: what we learned

The most recent anti-counterfeiting seminar was held on August 12-13 in Yaroslavl, a customs point in central Russia. Because it is a major transportation hub, a large amount of consumer goods flow through Yaroslavl.

The seminar was well-attended. Among the 250 participants were customs officials from the Central and Northwestern federal districts of Russia, officials from many CIS countries, representatives from the Central Committee of the Russian Customs Service, and brand owners and their legal counsel from industries such as auto manufacturers, global media, luxury brands and pharmaceuticals. 

Special attention was given at the seminar to the copyright aspects of customs enforcement - particularly the resort to copyright as an alternative means of enforcement for designations not registered or protected as trademarks in Russia.

In Russia, copyright protection is based upon the core principles in the 1886 Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. Being a party to the Convention, Russia protects the rights of those who are nationals or residents of member countries to the Convention. The Russian Code of Administrative Offences, inter alia, empowers enforcement agencies, such as customs, to initiate investigations against infringers on the basis of copyright.

Once the customs officials detect a distinctive designation (identical to a known logo, symbol, or the name of a film or cartoon) on the goods produced for customs clearance by a third party, these goods can be stopped and an investigation initiated, provided that the owner of the designation can produce evidence - such as a copyright certificate or an assignment agreement - to demonstrate ownership of copyright. In this way, copyright is also an effective border control tool, especially when trademark protection is not an option.

Not every customs point within Russia has a clear and established understanding as to how copyright can be applied instead of, or as a supplement to, trademark rights. The Yaroslavl meeting successfully focused on this aspect of enforcement.

Next seminar: November 9-13, 2015

This year’s final seminar is scheduled to be in Krasnodar on November 9-13, 2015. The seminar will focus on the customs points of the Southern Federal District of Russia, which covers seven points, including the Ukrainian border, the Black Sea and Sochi.

The Gowlings Russia/CIS anti-counterfeiting team will attend the Krasnodar seminar, with an aim to inform customs officials and advocate concerns on behalf of our clients.

For more information on the seminar, please contact Maria Aronikova or Valeria Mironova. 

Read our report on the Russian customs sessions in Krasnodar.

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