Russians getting Bolshie over Lenin

As the season of snow, ice and long dark European nights draws gathers momentum, the legal institutions of the former Soviet Union and current Russian Federation seem to be getting their furry winter knickers in a twist examining the uncomfortable gap that exists between its history, its present and its commercial potential.

In a recent piece for World Trademark Review, "Mark including word element ‘Lenin’ cannot be registered", Vladimir Biriulin (Gorodissky & Partners, Moscow) explains the refusal of the Patent Office to allow registration of a trade mark which included the name "Lenin", a decision subsequently upheld by the Chamber of Patent Disputes. He writes:
" ... Atomflot, a Russian state-owned maritime company, filed an application for the registration of the following trade mark (meaning 'Atomic Icebreaker Lenin') (Application 2009732845/50):

The Patent Office refused the application. It pointed out that 'Lenin' was the pseudonym of a political personality who had founded the Bolshevik party and headed the 1917 revolution in Russia. Since his name was closely connected to the history of the Russian state, registration of the mark in the name of the applicant would contradict public interest. The applicant appealed the decision to the Chamber of Patent Disputes.

The Chamber of Patent Disputes upheld the decision of the Patent Office. It pointed out that the mark applied for included a figurative and a word element, but that the dominant element was the word 'Lenin' because it would be memorised more easily than the figurative element. The attention of the consumer would thus be focused specifically on that word element. Given that Lenin is the name of a political personality who is well known worldwide, the mark applied for would create an association with Lenin himself, rather than with any trade marked goods...."
Meanwhile, in a newsletter feature, "Rospatent Appeals Moscow Court Decision In 'Putin-Medvedev' Vodka Trademark Case", the IPKat's friends at Petosevic report as follows:
"Russia’s Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent) has recently appealed against Moscow Commercial Court’s decision stating that Rospatent’s refusal to register the “Volodya i Medvedi” (Volodya and the bears) trade mark is illegal.

Earlier this year Rospatent refused to grant to Royalty, the Russian beverage producer, trade mark protection for the brand of vodka that makes reference to the names of Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

Volodya is a nickname for Vladimir and Medvedi, or bears, sounds similar to the last name Medvedev.

Royalty appealed before the Moscow Commercial Court against the Rospatent’s decision and won the case on September 12, 2011.

At the time of going to press, additional details about the appeal brought by Rospatent against the Moscow Commercial Court were not available ...."
The IPKat will be watching for further developments with great interest.

More on Lenin here; Lennon here; Lemmon here
Vodka and bears here and here
Russians getting Bolshie over Lenin Russians getting Bolshie over Lenin Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. The French didn't have problems with Napoleon for the brandy.

  2. That's what I've heard: If there're something in common between Putin and Medvedev, then it's their dislike of strong spirits. Putin st most drink beer, and Medvedev at most drink wine.

  3. Talking about historical national figures: In China one could register the name of Qu Yuan (340-278 BCE), who committed suicide by drowning himself in protest to corruption by the authorities at that time, for a trade mark for pig-feed (just short of fish-feed, because the legend goes that people did not want that the fish eat him, so they threw in rice and poured wine in the river, and they do that still every year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month as a tradition).

    I think an expansion of the provisions that reject the trade mark registration symbols of the state (in China art. 10 Trade mark law) could be expended with historical national figures (who cannot protect the integrity of their identity)could be considered. However, the trade mark office could make exceptions if the name is used for a trade mark in a tasteful and responsible way. If a trade mark, which includes or equals the name of an historical national figure, is used in a proper way (which might include education on the package about the figure), it may help that the historical national figure lives on in the minds of the public.


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