McDonald’s, which was one of the first corporations to shutter operations in Russia, announced that it would be exiting the country completely, after selling its Russian restaurants to a local licensee who will rebrand them under a new name.
Reuters and Josh Gerben discuss whether or not Western businesses will be able to maintain and enforce intellectual property rights within Russia.
Western intellectual property rights have been under fire in Russia since March, when a government decree gave Russian entities the ability to use patents owned by companies located in “unfriendly countries” without permission or financial obligations. This was then followed by a low-level Russian court allowing infringement on a “Peppa Pig” trademark. Trademark squatters also began filing trademark applications with the Russian trademark office for logos that looked eerily similar to those of many major Western brands. One such application included a design that looked like McDonald’s Golden Arches turned on their side, though this application has already been cancelled. As of now, no infringing application has been approved by the Russian government.
What does this mean for the fast food giant’s intellectual property?
The odds of McDonald’s retaining its trademarks in Russia after leaving are “slim to none,” said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney with the Gerben IP in Washington.
“It’s always been a sketchy place,” Gerben said. “Now, it’s no longer sketchy, it’s treacherous and dangerous.”
Source: Paramasivam, Praveen. https://www.reuters.com. “McDonald’s to sell Russia restaurants to local operator, rebrand.” 19 May 2022.