• Review of changes in IP law in 2013
  • March 24, 2014 | Authors: Anna Shmalyuk; Anna Shmalyuk
  • Law Firm: Capital Legal Services - St. Petersburg Office
  • The most significant legal changes in 2013 affected regulation of intellectual property rights on the Internet.

    The most publicized act was Federal Law No.187-FZ “On introducing amendments to certain legal acts of the Russian Federation on issues of protection of IP rights in information and telecommunications networks” dated July 02, 2013, unofficially entitled the “Antipiracy Law.”

    The Law is aimed at strengthening protection of rightholders against infringement of their copyright to audiovisual products on the Internet and provides for the following:

    • A simplified procedure for applying prejudicial measures and limiting access to movies illegally published on the Internet is implemented. The movie rightholders are now able to block web sites publishing audio and visual works without consent from their owners for up to 15 days prior to filing a claim with the court. In theory, it is possible to not just block certain pages containing pirated content, but the entire web site as well.
    • Clarifications are given on competence of the courts resolving disputes over copyright-infringing movies. All cases pertaining to the blocking of web sites are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Moscow City Court.
    • A new concept of an “information intermediary” which includes owners of social networks and file sharing portals, and the boundaries of their liability are established. For example, information intermediaries will not be liable for the transmission of materials to the Internet, provided they:
      • do not initiate such transmission and do not determine the recipient;
      • do not change the materials;
      • were unaware that the party initiating the transmission used the materials illegally.

    Lawmakers also did not forget about holders of trademark rights. As a result of changes in the administrative legislation, the liability for production and sale of counterfeit goods has been substantially increased. The penalty imposed on legal entities for such infringement is now equal to the three times the cost of goods, and the pirated goods are subject to confiscation.

    The most anticipated event of 2013 was the launching of the Court for Intellectual Property Rights (the ‘SIP’) which is the first court in Russia within the framework of commercial arbitration courts created specifically for resolving disputes pertaining to protection of IP rights. The Court’s competence includes resolving of disputes on:

    • Challenging legislative acts affecting the applicant’s rights and interests pertaining to legal protection of intellectual property;
    • Providing or ceasing legal protection for intellectual property and equivalent means of individualization.

    The Court acting as a cassation instance also examines cases:

    • Examined by the Court in capacity of the first instance court;
    • On protection of intellectual property rights previously examined by courts of the first instance and appeal.

    The court officially started working on July 3, 2013. Over 400 cases were examined by the Court in the capacity of a court of the first and cassation instances during the first 6 months and over 200 cases have been examined by the Court in 2014, which demonstrates a high level of activity among rightholders and the efficiency of the Court’s work.

    Due to the forthcoming merger of the Supreme Commercial Arbitration Court and Supreme Court, the Court for Intellectual Property Rights will be excluded from the system of commercial arbitration courts and its competence will be extended.

    Some law enforcement trends of 2013 favorable for rightholders should be highlighted. In 2013 the Supreme Courts of the Russian Federation adopted a number of crucial rulings specifying details and clarifying positions of legislators. Rulings of the Supreme Commercial Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation related to calculation of the compensation amount for illegal use of trademarks and copyright items appear to be of particular interest from the practical standpoint. By summing them up we may come to a conclusion that the courts have become less formal in determining the compensation amount and have been paying more attention to circumstances of a case.

    Big changes are coming in 2014: there are plans to implement amendments to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, including with respect to protection of copyright and related rights on the Internet; the Federal Intellectual Property Service will be reorganized and its competence will be extended; changes are expected in the competition laws pertaining to the use of intellectual property.

    The lawmakers’ attention to the protection of IP rights demonstrates the importance for the time being and gives us hope that the Russian legislation will continue developing this year.