Earlier this month in Moscow, Russia’s Chairman of Government Mishustin released a decree effectively allowing patent infringement within the country. The decree amends Russia’s method for determining the amount of compensation paid to a patent owner in the case of infringement. Of course, this news comes in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, for which the international community has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia.
Specifically, the decree revises Russian intellectual property law so that, if patent holders are “associated with foreign states who commit unfriendly actions against Russian legal entities and individuals” then “the amount of compensation is 0 percent of the actual proceeds” gained by infringers. In the words of the Russian government, an infringer enabled by this amendment is a “person who exercised the right to use an invention, utility model or industrial design without the consent of the patent owner . . . .” Patent holders may fall within this unprotected class if they are a citizen of an “unfriendly” state, or if such a state is their place of registration, primary business activity, or primary profit from business activity. The list of “unfriendly” countries includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Australia, all European Union member countries, and, of course, Ukraine.