Brands are facing a rise in counterfeit goods and gray market products worldwide, including in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
This region, which consists of Russia and other smaller markets, should not be overlooked. Instead, a global brand protection strategy should address the challenges wherever they may be.
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CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States, is a regional organization.
Today, member states include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan holds the status of an “associate state”.
Ukraine, although a “founding state” has never been a member and withdrew its representatives from CIS bodies in response to tensions with Russia.
The CIS encourages cooperation in different sectors, including economic issues, the coordination of trade, finance, and laws.
What is brand protection in the CIS
Brand protection is about protecting the intellectual property (IP) of brands and companies.
IP protection defends against counterfeiters, copyright infringers, patent abusers, or other types of intellectual property infringement.
It helps to prevent loss of revenue, protect reputation and preserve trust.
CIS IP protection systems
In CIS Member States, as in many other territories, intellectual property has been based on international treaties such as the Madrid Protocol.
The shared principles help harmonize and promote intellectual property protection across the region.
IP protection in the CIS region has two parallel systems:
- The Eurasian Patent Convention
- Eurasian Economic Union.
The Eurasian Patent Convention is an international agreement providing a mechanism for patent protection.
Although it promotes some unification, patent protection is not completely unified across the region.
The Eurasian Economic Union is an international organization for regional economic issues, including intellectual property.
The Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO) is the organization that administers the patents.
The Eurasian patent offers protection in member states of the Eurasian Patent Convention with only one application.
After application, the national offices of member states examine the invention before granting protection.
Generally speaking, the criteria for patent registration are the same as those of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the European Patent Convention.
The EAPO is working toward improved protection in the region.
Starting 2019, a protocol to the Eurasian Patent Convention extends its scope to industrial designs.
But in order to offer industrial designs protection across the region, member states should adopt more regulations and procedures. Until these are implemented, the region uses the existing EAPO system that still creates regional cooperation.
EAPO also created a regional Register of Pharmaceutical Products in 2021.
The Register is open for any Eurasian patent for a pharmaceutical substance, and also lists the countries of protection, the scope of protection, licenses, and marketing authorizations.
Eurasian Economic Union
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was founded by the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, which is the basic document of the Union.
Currently, member states are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.
The Treaty established the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU), which objective is to form a unified customs territory with free internal trade.
The EAEU promotes the harmonization of national legislation regarding illegal trafficking among all member nations.
As a result, domestic measures in one member state may affect the region. Such are the new measures for preventing the illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods approved by Russia as recently as November 2021.
There, Russia intends to increase penalties for the manufacturing, storage, transport, and sale of fake goods. Another measure creates a mechanism for increased accountability for goods sold on commercial properties.
The founding EAEU Treaty includes a section on intellectual property.
In the IP section, the Treaty states that it aims to harmonize intellectual property legislation and protect the interests of rights holders.
It refers to international treaties that are the legal framework for regional cooperation regarding IP.
Under the Treaty, Member States apply their national IP. Yet, it has a Protocol on the protection of intellectual property rights.
The Protocol offers a framework of general principles and protection of copyright, trademarks, and other intellectual property rights. It is especially notable in relation to the regional exhaustion of trademark rights.
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Trademarks and Appellations of origin
The EAEU Treaty created one EAEU trademark and later – one EAEU appellation of origin.
It took a long time to reach the EAEU agreement on trademarks and appellations of origin, which the Member States signed in 2020.
Significantly, it introduces the EAEU trademark, the EAEU appellation of origin, registration procedures for the two IP rights, and how to implement and maintain the official register of rights.
The Register may include copyright and other IP rights, as well as trademarks and appellations of origin.
The Commission is the body that administers the application review process.
Russian is the main language of the IP system so every trademark must have a Cyrillic transliteration. It must also include a translation into all languages of the Member States.
After an application is submitted, national offices have a timeframe to examine and report on the application. The office gets all the reports and notifies the applicant. In case of rejection, the applicant has a set timeframe to object.
Although the implementation of the agreement is progressing, there are still some areas to finalize, such as when exactly can applicants start filing to the EAEU (which will then forward them to the national authorities).
As the system is not yet fully implemented, it currently seems that the enforcement of trademarks still falls under national legal systems and courts.
More IP protection
Trademark and brand protection is a challenge in CIS countries, and member states seem to recognize the need for improvement.
A new agreement aims to enhance cooperation between member states to help prevent illegal goods from entering the region. According to the Rospatent, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property,
“On May 28, 2021 the CIS Council of Heads of Government signed the Agreement on Cooperation of CIS Member States on Prevention and Suppression of Use of False Trademarks and Geographical Indications.
The document replaces the existing Agreement signed in 1999, inspired by the TRIPS Agreement and the Madrid Agreement for the Repression of False or Deceptive Indications of Source on Goods.
It was aimed at establishing the coordination mechanism among the law enforcement bodies to protect the interests of rightsholders and consumers against unfair use of indications on products.”
Other treaties govern IP protection in the CIS, such as the Agreement on Coordinated Actions in Protection of Intellectual Property Assets and the Agreement “On interaction of customs authorities of the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the field of protection of intellectual property rights”.
Member States have also agreed on a common customs territory of the EAEU, a Customs Code of the EAEU, and a Unified Customs Register of IP to help protect IP rights with better effectiveness.
Counterfeits and prevention
According to a report by the Eurasian Economic Commission (which includes CIS countries Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia), in the year 2020, the volume of imports to the EAEU amounted to $258.4 billion, with over 82% imported into Russia.
The share of counterfeits in Russia, as reported by BOF, has also grown and varies from 5 percent to 30 percent depending on the industries.
Consumers and brands alike should be aware of where counterfeiting occurs the most.
Counterfeits are easy to purchase on online platforms like Instagram, and can also be found offline.
For example, in Russia, Sadovod is an indoor center in Moscow and one of the largest trade centers in Russia, also known to offer fake goods. Other known hotspots are Apraksin Dvor in St. Petersburg and Lira in south-west Russia.
Brands may face counterfeit issues with fake imported goods, but they can also see fakes when they manufacture in the CIS.
Unscrupulous manufacturers are common in some parts of the region, and counterfeit goods may be seen as profitable and low-risk for factories.
To better prevent fakes, brands can vet manufacturers carefully and sign agreements that grant them contractual remedies rather than remedies for IP infringements.
Wiser online brand protection
When it comes to online brand protection in the CIS and other territories, Wiser Market offers quick, efficient, and cost-effective solutions that can help brands in all sectors.
We offer a digital brand protection strategy that includes 24/7/365 worldwide brand monitoring.
Our innovative system scans online channels, including websites, marketplaces, and social commerce networks, to detect IP infringements and enforce your IP rights in every language.
Our team of experts has extensive knowledge and works closely with you to tailor a unique solution that best serves your needs.
Enforcement makes your IP stronger and helps secure your brand and revenue both online and offline.
With Wiser Market, your brand can meet the challenges of IP protection in the CIS region and have a comprehensive IP protection solution, from detection to enforcement of your IP rights, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
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How to start brand protection in CIS?
As elsewhere around the world, brand protection often begins with trademark registration.
The steps for trademark registration in the CIS:
- Conduct trademark search
- File an application
- Wait for formal examination of information and documents
- Registration is granted and a certificate issued following payment of all fees
What are strategies to fight counterfeits in the CIS region?
- Register trademarks in CIS member states.
- Record your rights at customs.
- Be proactive – continuously monitor the market and enforce your rights when needed.
What can Wiser Market do for you in the CIS region?
Wiser Market online brand protection agency is the smart way to protect your brand. Use Wiser Market to combat infringements, increase revenue, and enjoy long-term benefits.
Why online brand protection?
The rise in e-commerce channels (marketplaces, social commerce, live streaming, and others) has made IP infringements prevalent globally. Counterfeits are no longer confined to specific geographical locations. Instead, e-commerce channels allow access for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Online brand protection is crucial to protecting your brand both online and offline.