As companies continue to pull their businesses from Russia over its war on Ukraine, Kremlin is reportedly easing its intellectual property laws and allowing domestic companies to steal intellectual property from “unfriendly nations”.
Reported first by the Washington Post, Russian businesses can essentially copy any intellectual property from companies hailing from the sanctioned list and make money off the originating brand without legal repercussions. Moreover, these companies won’t even be able to seek compensation upon breach or illegal use of their intellectual property.
In response to sanctions and public outcry, more than 300 multinational corporations have suspended some-or-all of their operations in Russia, including iconic American brands such as Apple, Visa, McDonald’s, Disney and Coca-Cola. Russian citizens are no longer able to use many of their credit cards, watch Netflix shows or even purchase new electronics.
Putin has vowed to seek “legal solutions” to seize the assets of Western companies that leave the country. The Kremlin aims to take control of businesses with foreign ownership of 25 percent or more and then auction them off to Russian investors.
Moscow is already refusing to return hundreds of airplanes it leased from Western companies, which have a combined value of approximately $10 billion. Russian lawmakers are also discussing the takeover of auto plants owned by Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota, among others, as well as multibillion-dollar energy projects partially owned by ExxonMobil and BP.
According to a TASS report, such measures would “mitigate the impact on the market of supply chain brakes as well as shortages of goods and services that have arisen due to new sanctions of western countries.”
McDonald’s, which shuttered its approximately 850 stores in Russia last week, is one such company. Trademark attorneys note that a similar revocation of penalties for trademark infringement could have major implications for the fast-food chain and other companies pausing sales in Russia.
Russia could start letting local operators run the closed McDonald’s stores.
You read that correctly. Essentially, Russians can start selling big brands like McDonald’s with zero legal repercussions.
The list of 47 “unfriendly countries” referenced includes Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Australia, British Virgin Islands, Canada, European Union member states, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, and the United States.
For a more complete look at which companies are pulling their business from Russia, read here.