In 2023, the number of legal disputes due to violation of intellectual rights in the Russian Federation increased by more than 20%, and in two years – by 55%. Lawyers attribute the trend to the development of marketplaces and e-commerce: sellers and manufacturers of goods are most often sued. In addition, experts note, the general resumption of business activity in the country after the recession in 2022 is having an impact.
“Kommersant” got acquainted with the data of the Moscow Digital School (part of Ultimate Education) and the EDB, according to which the number of registered litigation related to the protection of intellectual property (IP) in 2023 increased by 21%, to 52 thousand claims. In 2021, there were only 34 thousand such trials, so the growth was 55% over two years.
More than 80% of the proceedings concerned disputes over the protection of exclusive rights. Their number increased by 21%, to 44 thousand. The number of disputes on the protection of copyright and related rights increased by 67%, patent – by 29%, exclusive rights to trademarks – by 5%. In cases related to the protection of exclusive rights to brand names, litigation began, on the contrary, less frequently: the drop reached 47%.
After the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine and the massive withdrawal of Western companies from the Russian market, the number of disputes in the courts over foreign trademarks skyrocketed (see Kommersant, December 1, 2023). The increase in the number of legal disputes surrounding IP is also associated with increasing competition, including in the mass segments of e-commerce due to the active development of marketplaces, says Alina Akinshina, CEO of Online Patent.
Most often, disputes arise between the copyright holder (producer) and the seller, if the latter sells goods without approval, says Ms. Akinshina, much less often – between the copyright holder and the marketplace. The latter arise only if the company, as an intermediary, has not taken the necessary measures to protect intellectual rights, which does not happen often, the expert clarifies.
According to Yandex Market and the Tochka Marketplaces service, the average turnover of Russian sellers in mid-2023 amounted to 761.9 thousand rubles. per month, although for the same period in 2022 – 546.7 thousand rubles. (see “Kommersant” dated November 20, 2023).
Roman Lukyanov, a member of the licensing committee of the Association of Children’s Goods Industry Enterprises, connects the increase in court cases with the increasing importance of IP for the Russian economy: “Copyright holders are more aware of the economic importance of this asset, its potential for commercialization and, as a result, protect it more often.”
In addition, the termination of brand licensing by foreign companies in the Russian Federation did not affect the aspects of legal protection against counterfeiting, emphasizes Georgy Davidyan, executive director of the IP law firm Media-NN: “Now they make up at least 25% of all parties to disputes.” In practice, disputes are most often initiated over cases of illegal use of trademarks and copyrighted objects (audiovisual, musical and literary works, photographs and drawings), he says.
In particular, copyright holders are making demands to stop the illegal use of IP objects, as well as payment of monetary compensation for the violation. The amount of claims depends on the nature of the violation, on average it is up to 100 thousand rubles, clarifies Mr. Davidyan. For copyrights, typical requirements can amount to several tens of thousands of rubles, agrees Alina Akinshina, but for trademarks the order of requirements “is measured in hundreds of thousands or millions of rubles.”
Boris Yedidin, deputy chairman of the commission on legal support for the digital economy of the Moscow branch of the Russian Bar Association, believes that the above dynamics generally reflect changes in business activity in the country: “In 2022, due to objective circumstances, it slowed down, and in 2023 the Russian economy showed steady growth , which means that traditional mechanisms for expanding disputes have returned.”