Trademarks and Mandatory Labeling Interplay in Russia
In order to confirm the authenticity of goods and the legality of their origin, they are labeled. Such labeling can be called a kind of quality mark. Initially, excise stamps and holographic stickers were used for labeling in Russia, and a narrow list of goods was subject to labeling, among which were alcohol and tobacco products, as well as audiovisual works. This list of goods was due to the extremely high level of counterfeit and fake goods in these markets.
Over time, unauthorized production and sale of goods expanded in other industries as well. In order to counteract offenders, the list of goods that must be marked was also expanded. The nature of the applied symbols has also changed and improved. Now, to confirm the authenticity of the goods, a unique digital code, which is protected by cryptography, is applied to the packaging of each product unit.
In 2018, the Russian government approved the following list of goods that will also be subject to mandatory labeling starting in 2019.
· Tobacco products;
· Perfume and eau de toilette
· New pneumatic rubber tires and tires
· Clothing, including work clothes, made of leather or composite leather
· Shirt-waists and shirt-waists knitted machine or hand-knitted, women’s or girl’s
· Coats, short coats, capes, raincoats, jackets (including skiing), windbreakers, jackets, and similar products
· Linen bedding, tableware, toiletry, and kitchen
· Cameras (except movie cameras), flash cameras and flash lamps
It is worth noting that by 2024, it is planned to create a system of continuous product labeling in Russia. That is, all categories of goods will be labeled. Thus, over time, any product, regardless of whether it is produced in Russia or imported from other countries will be marked with a special means of identification, which is a generated digital code. The use of such a code makes it possible to trace the entire “path” of a product, identify its manufacturer, distributor, and so on.
Of particular interest is the following question: how does compulsory labeling relate to a trademark?
At first glance, the only thing in common between the concepts is that they are signs that are applied to goods, as a digital code; albeit a digital, but still a designation.
Owning a registered trademark is the right of the person. In turn, labeling is a prerequisite for the legal sale of goods in Russia. A trademark has a rightsholder with exclusive rights, which can make a profit by concluding a franchise agreement or alienating the trademark. The procedure for securing a trademark on the goods is different. Thus, each item of goods is subject to mandatory labeling, and one type of product, for example, shoes, one manufacturer, or distributor will be identified by the same code. At the same time, one person can register several trademarks for one type of goods; for example, several designations for different lines of shoes.
Although from the legal point of view the use of these signs does not intersect in any way, there is still some element of interaction between these institutions. Taking into account the possibility to read various information from the digital labeling code, Rospatent concluded on the possibility of successful interaction with the company responsible for the mandatory labeling of goods. Thus, in February 2021 Rospatent, the Ministry of Industrial Trade of Russia, and Operator-CRPT, the Operator of the product labeling system, signed an agreement on information interaction and data exchange. Now, the patent office will have access to the information indicated by the owner of the goods during the mandatory labeling of goods, including trademarks.
Grigory Ivliev, the head of Rospatent, comments: “Through this cooperation, we will be able to reconcile trademarks declared in the labeling system with information about them in Rospatent. The labeling system will contain information about the trademarks, which indicate its participants. Watchdog agencies will receive information about companies that use trademarks but have no rights to them, and information about goods with such trademarks.
Thus, we can note a positive trend for trademark owners. The interaction of the above-mentioned institutions will allow to track the distributors of counterfeit goods and reduce the use of trademarks which is uncoordinated with the right holder.
Originally published in World Trademark Review