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Much ado about something

10 March 2022

The situation that has come to exist after sanctions imposed on Russia indeed raises many questions. One of these is intellectual property. Some Russian newspapers and Internet media snatch at hot news from the Russian government and from other sources. For instance, Michail Mishustin, Russian Prime Minister signed a decree No 299 on March 6, 2022 regarding zero compensation to the patent owner if a patent is used without his permission. In practice, this concerns a patent for Remdesivir, an anti-Covid medicine which was allowed to be used by two Russian companies without permission of the patent owner.

This piece of news was immediately used by some Internet media, ran articles under catchy titles, e.g. “Russia Legalizes Intellectual Property Piracy”. They acknowledge that they took information from Russian media and not from the original text of the decree. If we compare the original text of the decree and the titles and the contents of the media, it becomes clear that they expand the problem much beyond the boundaries of the Mishustin’s decree. The said decree concerns situations of extreme urgency only. So far, this concerns patents for an anti-Covid medicine that were allowed to be used by two Russian pharmaceutical companies while the media state that all intellectual property is cancelled in Russia.

It should be noted for the sake of justice that Russian media indulge in the same trend to make public unconfirmed discussions instead of facts: “Russia legalizes pirates” (newspaper Kommersant); “Ministry of Economic Development discusses lifting restrictions on the use of intellectual property” (TASS agency). Western media rely on this unconfirmed information and present it as facts.

Some media are more cautious in entitling their materials. For example, an article of March 7, 2022 states: “Russian government considers(!) suspending IP rights of foreign companies”. The text of the article makes statements that are not consistent with truth, such as “Russian government plans to cancel liability for parallel imports”. In fact, parallel import was legalized by the Russian Constitutional Court several years ago with several exceptions: parallel import is not allowed if imported goods are not consistent with technical requirements or pose risks to human health. It is obvious that these restrictions will not be lifted. The allegation that restrictions will lead to copies of famous brands is without base either.

What really may be stated as a fact, is that a law has been adopted on March 8, 200 (No 46-Ф3). It allows the government to list the goods in respect of which separate provisions of IP law may be waived. The government has not used the law so far and it is believed that this may happen in extraordinary situations when there will be absence of certain goods on the Russian market.

We admit that the international situation is confusing and the events may take unexpected turns however it is necessary to stick strictly to the facts and publish only information which is actually valid and confirmed. At the same time it is worth noting that all IP laws remain valid and membership in international conventions is maintained.

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