6 November 2012

Pussy Riot Trade Mark Prepares to Enter the Market


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Image: Grafite para Pussy Riot by Cayoo via Wikimedia Commons
Grafite para Pussy Riot

During the trial of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot there were voices of concern that the three young ladies would not really care for their political message, but would rather be looking for cheap popularity, which they eventually could transform into cash.

The information I recently came across (here in English as well as here, here and here in Russian) show that there have indeed been

aspirations to exploit the current media hype

although the latter should not be attributed to the meanwhile jailed musicians, but to a company related to their lawyer Mark Feygin.

According to the quoted sources, the OOO Kinokompania WEB-BIO has applied for the registration of the trade mark “Pussy Riot” not only with the Russian Patent Office Rospatent, but also with Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), which administers the so called Community Trade Marks.

Unfortunately, one could not reasonably accuse Rospatent of being particularly transparent, so the only trade mark  application accessible online is the one with OHIM (filed under number 011 182 367).

The latter provides us with the basic information about

the large number of classes applied for

(3, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 18, 25, 26, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 41, 42, 45) evidencing for the strong entrepreneurial vigour with which Web-BIO is obviously intending to enter the market.

Weird trade mark applications and registrations are not unusual, when it comes to Russia.

During the last couple of years market participants managed to successfully register brands such as “Christmas” and “New Year” for banking services (read more here and here) as well as “Anna Chapman” for clothing and beverages (read more here).

As I am particularly interested in Russian trade marks, I will follow also the story of the Pussy Riot brand, thus – stay tuned.

1 February 2011

The Spy Who Loved Her Name


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IMG_9950photo © 2010 zemistor | more info (via: Wylio)

Do you remember the bank that trademarked “Christmas”? Can happen only in Russia, right? Well, the land of Tolstoy, Bakunin and Putin shows once again that it is always good to provide for news relating to intellectual property!

The current case I would like to spend some words on is not as outrages as the “Christmas” one, though it involves a personality who not long ago gained a huge medial publicity.

Like to guess who might that be? Hm, what was this blog article’s name in the first place?

Yes, I can be talking only about Anna Kuschyenko, also known as Chapman! According to the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, the spy scandal heroine has successfully been granted the right to use her name as a trade mark for the classes 3, 14, 25, 28, 32, 33, 35 and 41. In doing so, Chapman obviously did what many others had already done in the past.

In this respect people have often asked me:

Are personal names registrable as trade marks?

In all generality, yes. While treated as descriptive signs and hence “weak” marks in the US, they are to be assessed exactly the same way as any other prospective trade marks in the European Union.
In other words, both jurisdictions allow the registration of personal names with their respective trade mark offices.

Apparently the same is true also under Russian trade mark law. Nevertheless, there is one thing I don’t really feel kosher about when considering the registrability of the Chapman mark. After all she was accused to have participated in an espionage affair and thus deported back to Russia. I would have classified those circumstances disparaging, had I been appointed to examine Ms Chapman’s application and, would have eventually rejected it. But Russia is different and we all know that. Russia loves its spies and treats them as heroes. Would it be then permissible to ask:

Was the trade mark registration Russia’s payoff to Ms Chapman?

I am afraid we will never figure this one out. In any case she spied in her country’s name, did love its own and succeeded in trademarking it!

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14 January 2010

From Russia with (trade mark) love


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I have always known that Russia and Russians are different. So totally different that they can hardly be compared with other nations’ representatives. And this appears to be true also with respect to their dealings with intellectual property.

According to the Russian newspaper Komersant, Vostochniy Express, a Russian bank, has successfully registered with Rospatent words like

“New Year”, “Christmas”, “Holiday”

as well as derivates thereof as trade marks. Not surprisingly, many banks issue promotional offers specially at Christmas or at year’s end. As a consequence of its trade mark grant however, Vostochniy Express has served such banks with cease and desist notices. The proprietor bank has alternatively offered to license the use of its “trade marks” against payment of license fees.

Vostochniy Express demonstrate they are

A Way Ahead In Making Business With Their IP Assets

This bank’s business drive could, however, be barred since the registration of the “trade marks” in suit has been referred to a board of appeal within Rospatent. Pursuant to the Russian trade mark practitioner Vassily Moiseev, the board of appeal is very likely to vacate Rospatent’s grant as it has frequently done in the past.

In my view Rospatent had to reject the registration as these very words are not really capable of distinguishing the products or services of Vostochniy Express from those of other banks. See whether the board of appeal will deliver a judgment consistent with mine.