In July, the Russian Federation (Russia) ratified its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). On August 22, 2012, Russia became a full WTO member (the 156th), and probably the last major trading country to join the organization. See www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres12_e/pr668_e.htm
Whether Russia would join the WTO remained in doubt until virtually the last days before ratification. Russia’s Communist Party and other protectionist groups lobbied fiercely against the country’s accession and even challenged the accession in the country’s Constitutional Court. On July 9, 2012, the Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of Russia’s ratification law and signing procedure for Russia’s WTO accession.
Upon accession, Russia committed itself to fully apply the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), including provisions concerning trademarks and enforcement, without recourse to any transitional period. Several years before joining the WTO, Russia largely brought its substantive intellectual property laws into conformity with the TRIPS Agreement and other WTO rules. The fact that TRIPS now also directly applies in Russia should further improve IP protection in Russia.
Simultaneously with joining the WTO, Russia streamlined its Patent and Trademark Office official fees. The relevant resolution of the Russian government (Resolution No. 781) was issued on September 15, 2011, but became effective on the date when Russia joined the WTO.
The official fees for foreign applicants became the same as for Russia’s domestic applicants. This resulted in an approximately 25 to 30 percent increase of official fees for registration of trademarks but reduction of the fees for patents, utility models and industrial designs. In particular, the fee for filing a trademark application in one class was increased to 14,200 RUR (approx. US $433); the registration fee rose to 16,200 RUR (approx. US $495); and the renewal fee was increased to 20,250 RUR (approx. US $617).
All of Russia’s trading partners and Russia itself should benefit from the country’s membership in the WTO. It is expected that in the long run WTO membership will create a more stable framework for doing business in Russia and improve IP enforcement in Russia.
Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.
© 2012 International Trademark Association