On 2 March 2022, the Arbitrazh Court of the Kirov Region rendered a judgement which will potentially make a little piglet which is rather popular among 3-6 year olds famous with IP lawyers. The original of the judgement can be found here, a translation into English is provided below.
The story is simple: The holder of Russian trademarks № 1212958, No. 1224441 (“Peppa Pig” and its father “Papa Pig”), Entertainment UK Ltd, sued a Russian entrepreneur for violation of these trademarks. Not much is known about the way these trademarks were infringed, however, the suit failed for the simple reason that the claimant is based in the UK and the UK imposed sanctions on Russia. The wording of the judgement speaks for itself:
According to Article 62 (part 3) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens and stateless persons in the Russian Federation shall enjoy rights and bear responsibilities equally with the citizens of the Russian Federation, except in cases established by federal law or an international treaty of the Russian Federation.
At the end of February and beginning of March 2022, Western countries, including the UK, adopted restrictive (political and economic) measures against the Russian Federation, entities and individuals, as well as senior officials of the Russian Federation.
These circumstances are common knowledge and, by virtue of Article 69 § 1 of the APC, have a preclusive effect in the present dispute.
Presidential Decree No. 79 of 28.02.2022 on the application of special economic measures in relation to unfriendly acts by the United States of America and associated foreign states and international organisations was issued on 28.02.2022.
Article 10, paragraph 1, of the Civil Code prohibits the exercise of civil rights solely with the intention of causing harm to another person, bypassing the law with an unlawful purpose, and other knowingly unconscientious exercise of civil rights (abuse of rights).
In the event of failure to comply with the requirements set out in paragraph 1 of this Article, the court, arbitral tribunal or arbitral tribunal shall, having regard to the nature and consequences of the abuse committed, refuse to protect in whole or in part the rights belonging to the person and shall also apply other measures prescribed by law (Article 10 § 2 of the Civil Code).
In view of the restrictive measures imposed on the Russian Federation and the plaintiff’s status (the plaintiff is domiciled in the UK), the court considers the plaintiff’s actions to be an abuse of right, which is an independent ground for refusing the claim.
The court finds no merit in the claims.
Given the current aggressiv war of Russia against Ukraine which proves that the Russian state does not even protect basic human rights (such as the right to life itself), it does not come as a big surprise that private rights such as trademarks are not protected any more. However, that a civil court uses such a reasoning reminds of the darkest times of civil jurisprudence. Anyone continuing doing business with Russia should know that its rights will not be protected by Russian courts.