Earlier this week the Russian government’s press office released a video stating that the country is planning to allow any business to import goods into the country, regardless of wether the brand’s owner wishes the goods to be sold in the country or not.
Law360 and Josh Gerben discuss the ramifications of Russia circumventing a brand’s trademark protections.
“In the past, if you wanted to sell Nike shoes into Russia, you couldn’t do it unless you had Nike’s permission,” said Josh Gerben. “What this ‘parallel imports” order said is that now you no longer need permission of the brand or patent owner to import those products.”
In a different decree earlier this month, Russia announced that it would allow unpaid and unapproved use of patents from “unfriendly countries” as well.
The latest law would now allow the legal importation of what Gerben calls “gray market” goods, which are not counterfeit, but are beign sold outside the control fo the companies that made them. Examples of these kinds of goods, he says, are products sold by resellers or liquidators, which are often sold online or in discount retail stores in the U.S., but often with restrictions that give brands the power to restrict those sales, if they choose.
Gerben said the implication of the law would be that Russia could become a gray market free-for-all. “There’s a lot of product that just circulates around the world, products that have been returned, products that have been liquidated because they didn’t sell or are outdated in one way or another. Maybe they have a new market in Russia.”
Source: Karpan, Andrew. https://www.law360.com. “Russia To Allow Imports Without Brand Owner Permission.” 30 March 2022.