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IP rights infringement in many cases creates an unfair competition act which is prohibited by the Paris Convention as well and by national antitrust laws and court and administrative practice in Russia.

To challenge the unfair behavior of the competitor the following general signs of unfair competition should be proven:

  • the parties of the dispute are competing on the Russian market;
  • the challenged behavior breaches the law, or customs, or is unfair, unreasonable or unjust;
  • the challenged behavior has an intention to get unreasonable advantages before competitor;
  • the challenged behavior causes damages or creates a threat of damages or damages the reputation of the competitor.

Four articles of the Law «On Competition Protection» clearly relate to intellectual property:

  • article 14.4 - prohibition to unfairly register a trademark or get rights to similar objects;
  • article 14.5 - prohibition of unfair competition by infringement of copyrights, patents, designs and know-how;
  • article 14.6 - prohibition of unfair competition by creating confusion:
    • unfair competition by trademark infringement;
    • unfair competition by parasitic attitude (copying or imitation of an outer appearance of the competitor’s goods, packaging,  color combination, or other individualization means, which are not registered as trademarks);
  • article 14.7. - prohibition of unfair competition by illegal obtaining, use or dissolving commercial or other secrets of the competitor.

There are two ways to challenge unfair competition in Russia:

  • to apply with administrative antitrust bodies (the Federal Antitrust Service or its regional departments);
  • to apply directly with the courts.

Actions based on article 14.4 of the Law «On Competition Protection» are considered by the Intellectual Property Court (direct filings, or appeals of the decision of the Federal Antitrust Service). Actions based on articles 14.5, 14.6 and 14.7 are considered by regional courts at the location of the defendant (in case of the direct filing) or of the antitrust body (in case of applying with the antitrust body first). Decisions of regional antitrust bodies can be appealed directly with the courts at the location of this body, or with the Federal Antitrust Service.

Not only the rules of the Law «On Competition Protection» but also of the Protocol on General Principles and Rules of Competition which is Annex N19 to the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, are to be kept in mind while entering into cooperation, license and distributorship agreements in Russia, as well as in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The Treaty also sets up a procedure to challenge cross-border unfair competition acts within the Union.

The enforcement system against unfair competition in Russia seems to be tricky, but our lawyers help clients to choose the proper way of protection against unfair competition depending on the facts of the case, basing on our vast practical experience in this field.