Recent developments in the Russian Federation indicate that GIs are gaining traction within public policy spheres as a means of promoting regional development in that country. The Russian Federation covers a huge area spanning 11 time zones. Its vast cultural and geographical diversity has given rise to myriad products with the potential to qualify for protection as GIs or a variation thereof.
About geographical indications and appellations of origin
Geographical indications (GIs) and appellations of origin (AOs) are distinctive signs that inform consumers about the origin of a product and indicate that its special features are attributable essentially to its place of production. An AO implies that production, processing, and preparation take place within a defined geographical area and that the qualities and characteristics of a product derive exclusively or essentially from its geographical environment, including natural and human factors. To qualify for protection as an AO, the link with the place of origin must be stronger than that required for GI protection.
While AOs and GIs are internationally accepted terms, countries use various terms within their national laws to provide the same or similar legal protection.
In the Russian Federation, origin-based products are protected as designations of origin (DOs). Article 1516 (1) of the Civil Code defines DOs as “designations that constitute or contain a modern or historical, official or unofficial, full or abbreviated designation of a country, city or a rural settlement, area or other geographical locale, as well as a name derived from such designation, that has become known due to its use with regard to a good, the special characteristics of which are exclusively or mainly determined by natural conditions and (or) human factors that are characteristic for that geographical locale.”
When the Russian Federation joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2012, it was required under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), to foresee the implementation of a special regime for GIs in its national law. At the time there was some uncertainty as to whether a DO as defined under Russian law was more akin to an AO or a GI. During the accession process, the representative of the Russian Federation indicated that its Civil Code was to be amended to align the definition of DOs with the TRIPS definition of GIs. This amendment remains in process.
At present, DO protection is granted upon registration with the Russian Federal Service...