Russia: IT Legal Environment
The general legal climate
is increasingly improving with Putin’s commitment
to accession to the WTO. But he
is putting off most major decisions until after the election this year
(2004). For the IT legal environment there has been
steady progress towards a legal environment comparable to other Western
nations. This has a huge impact
on the ICT market.
Russia’s Copyright Protection laws provide protection for
images, music, software programs, and video.
It also clearly extends to protect copyrighted material once such
material has been digitized. This
is comparable with most Western nation’s laws on the subject.
leaps in Patent Protection were announced in February of 2004 when a government
decree will permit state scientific institutions to grant patents and
other intellectual property rights to actual inventors.
Russia has traditionally had problems turning their inventions
into viable business products.
for Trademark Protection there are several key factors that must be considered
- Russia is a “first to register” jurisdiction, which
means that cases occur where a party is able to register a trademark
only because it was the first to do so
- They still do not have formal rules to recognize
famous or well-known trademarks from international companies
- RosPAtent has taken a formalistic approach – possible
registration of the same rademark in different classes of goods
a follow up to the trademark protection, there are specific Domain Name
Issues. RosNIIRos (administers
the .ru zone) sees no obligation to verify whether
an applicant’s proposed domain name might already be a registered trademark.
This has played an important role in several cases:
Case of Eastman
Kodak vs. Grundul
the domain name Kodak.ru
Decision for Grundel
Aktiengesellschaft vs OOO “TF Tandem-Yu”
OOO “TF Tandem-Yu” registered the domain name ‘quelle.ru’
Decision for German
OOO “Kodak” vs. Grundel
Eastman Kodak Russian
subsidiary ,OOO “Kodak,” also brought suit against Grundel
Decision for OOO “Kodak”
Note: the court’s
decision did not include an order to RosNIIRos to cancel the registration
of the domain name or re-assign it to anyone else.
Piracy in Russia continues to be a major inhibitor to the ICT market. In the early to mid 90s, it was common for most
of Russian businesses to be using pirated copies of the Windows Operating
System. The piracy rate has steadily dropped over the
past ten years according to the Business Software Alliance, reporting
an 87% rate in 2002. As of January
2004, piracy is down to 79%.
Competition Law in
Russia can apply to asset transactions or outsourcing deals
and is limited to commercial transactions. Its main application is IP infringement as an
unfair trade practice.
Russia, any company selling goods over the Internet needs
to be aware that the ultimate consumer will have enforceable rights under
the Law on Protection of Consumers’ Rights.
This is applicable to both companies internal and external to the
is a basic constitutional right to privacy (section 24.1) which reads
“The collection, keeping, use and dissemination of information about the
private life of a person shall not be allowed without his or her consent.” This right is further supplemented by the Law
“On Information, Informatisation and Protection
of Information.” This law provides
expressly that the collection, storage, use and dissemination of personal
data is allowed only with the consent of the person who the data belongs,
or by court decision.
attitudes towards privacy are most likely influenced by their long-term
Soviet rule. They are probably more likely to share information
because it was so ingrained in Soviet culture for everyone to know what
everyone else was doing.
are possible censorship issues with Putin as
he makes another play for the presidential position.
e-Commerce Contract Law
electronic digital signature and electronic document laws will dramatically
increase the e-Commerce market in Russia. Case law
shows the courts will look favorably on contracts entered into electronically
and this will bring new confidence for international companies looking
to do e-Commerce in Russia’s growing market.
The digital signature law may be too tight of an approach as it
includes verifying centers which must apply for government licenses.
there is no special tax regime for electronic transactions in Russia. If a company
has “permanent establishment”, it is subject to Russian profit tax, and
electronic transactions related to a)sales of
goods (work, services) in Russia and b) import of goods into the customs territory of Russia will be subject to VAT at the rate of 20%.