IPR in the Era of Conflicts by

Patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. are intangible assets majorly contributing to the growth of a nation, especially in terms of science and technology. The article discusses the implications of such conflict on its Intellectual Property rights.

Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and designs form the umbrella of legally obtained Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). These are intangible assets provided with IPR for a specific time period to ensure exclusive use. The object is to push a nation towards innovation and growth, in a healthy yet competitive environment. They form an integral part of the area of innovation, technology, and international trade. With the advent of rules and regulations in policing and registering these, the other side works on selling, reproducing,g and use of such IPR illegally, which is broadly termed as piracy and counterfeiting.

McDonald

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has incited several countries to take action against the Russian Government a result of which the USA, the UK, EU nations, and other countries have put forth various sanctions on the Russian Federation. With regards to this invasion, such decisions will play a major role in reshaping the global market, especially in terms of patents and trademarks rights, the consequences of which are yet to be seen.

As a countermeasure, Russian President Putin announced the suspension of normal compulsory licensing rules. Basically, reasonable compensation won’t be paid by the Russian authorities for the unauthorized use of intellectual Property Rights if the owners of such IPR belong to the countries showing hostility towards Russia. Is this compulsory licensing against sanctioning states, not a pro-piracy announcement?

Trademark squatting has already begun in Russia, a burger chain under the name “Uncle Vanya” has started using a deceptively similar logo to the well-known trademark in the burger world, McDonald’s, considering the fast-food chain shut down all its 850 stores in Russia. This move even has support from the government. A juxtaposition of the respective logos is given below;

The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement holds major power in the world of IPR at a global level. Russia is one of the signatories to this agreement. There exists ambiguity in the regulations mentioned in the TRIPS agreement related to the compulsory licensing issue, it is a problem because of the unclear and vague terms mentioned with regard to sanctions and ban. The agreement finds mention of circumstances that may trigger a nation towards compulsory licensing, ‘other circumstances of extreme urgency’ being a reason among them. But situations like that of the Russian Invasion do not justify bypassing the Intellectual property owner’s rights in any manner. The world acknowledged agreement needs to add particular rules, rights, and remedies for sanctioned countries.

Conclusion

The effects of such an announcement will lead to the creation of a world where counterfeiting and piracy of IPR are prevalent and contribute to the market growth of such nations and international trade, without favoring the original owners of the IPR in any manner. Moreover, this will reduce collective engagement in the areas of innovation, research, and development among nations. A specific regulation at a global level has become a necessity, it is important to regulate and protect IPR in today’s time; at a time where the internet, technology, globalization, and conflicts are prevalent.

Author: Abhiruchi Lakras – a student of Government Law College, Nagpur in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

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