By Vladimir Yakovlev
How can we estimate the value of intellectual property relating to any particular product? How do we protect such property in the creation of joint manufactures? How do we ensure that expertise is not pilfered for wider use than stipulated by a contract?
Such questions are being discussed by our Customs Union countries, as they are worldwide, and a system of intellectual property protection is being created. Belarusian legislation enables protection of trademarks domestically and abroad and is now being harmonised with that of other countries in the Customs Union. A draft agreement regarding unified registration of trademarks is now being worked upon. Meanwhile, enterprises are working within existing legislation. In Russia, for instance, 177 Belarusian trademarks are registered. Minsk Tractor Works alone has eight. Russian enterprises are no less active in Belarus.
Of course, difficulties arise, especially when trademarks date back to Soviet times. The names of favourite chocolates are of particular note: ‘Mishka na Severe’ and ‘Krasnaya Shapochka’ are the most common examples, being produced in Belarus and in Russia.
“We’ve yet to come to an agreement on the right to use these names,” notes Lyudmila Sokolovskaya, the Head of Belgospishcheprom’s Legal Department, with regret. “Accordingly, Belarus can’t export these chocolates under these names to Russia or vice versa. We have to invent new names for products loved by millions of people, spending huge amounts of money on their commercial promotion.”
Naturally, the situation is inconvenient to business people in Belarus and in Russia. Where interests are disturbed, a case can be taken to court. In Belarus, during the existence of the state system of intellectual property, the Appeal Board of the Patent Office and the Judicial Board for Intellectual Property of the Supreme Court have considered more than 500 cases, from representatives of over 40 countries. The Russians protect their rights in Belarus most actively.
“Most problems could be solved by a supranational organ of registration rights for intellectual property operating within the Customs Union,” notes Denis Nedvetsky, the Deputy Director General of the National Centre for Intellectual Property of Belarus. “It’s quite possible that, in developing the economic integration of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, such an organ will appear.”