The Moscow Times: If your company is interested in expanding its reach in new markets, it stands to reason that a little research ahead of time can save yourself from plenty of headaches when you try to protect you intellectual property abroad. To that end, a pair of excellent posts on securing valuable IP in Russia help the uninitiated reader learn more about the best way to navigate relevant laws in the former Soviet Union. First, Igor Nevzorov, Manager of Legal Services at Ernst & Young provides some insights on The Contribution of Intellectual Property to Charter Capital. He writes, by way of introduction to his chosen topic:

At the beginning of 2010, Russia marked the two-year anniversary of the entry into force of new intellectual property (IP) legislation (Part 4 of the Civil Code). Rarely clarified by Russian state arbitration courts until recently, the new legislation still contains a number of legal concepts that may give rise to contradictions and doubts as to their application by companies. One such legal concept mostly arising from the new part of the IP Civil Code is the contribution of IP rights to the charter capital of a company.

And being new, there are still some wrinkles to press away before the new code is fully fleshed out. Nevzorov helps pave the way to international IP detente:

As it was clarified by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Arbitration Court (P.11 of the joint ruling dated March 26, 2009), in the case of IP contribution, the shareholder should enter into an agreement with the company to that effect (such as an exclusive right sale agreement or license agreement).

The Russian law governing IP provides for the priority of national legislation over foreign legislation (Clause 1231 of the Civil Code). This means that in Russia the law recognizes only IP that is directly specified in the Civil Code and/or international treaties to which Russia is a party.

In her related piece, Ekaterina Karlova-Ignatyeva, a lawyer for Beiten Burkhardt, tackles Protecting Intellectual Property When Entering the Russian Market and reveals the need for some glasnost-building efforts to ensure proper protection of intellectual property when registering it in Russia. She writes:

…[I]t should be noted that, in the Russian Federation, protection is only afforded to trademarks that have been registered with the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks (Rospatent) or registered in accordance with Russian international agreements. If a trademark is not registered in Russia and is also not entered in the international register of the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with trademark protection extended to Russia, the trademark will not be protected. In this case, the risk arises that any third party may register an identical trademark in Russia. For this reason, prior to entering the Russian market, it is necessary to register the trademark with Rospatent or to submit an application to expand the geographical scope of protection of a trademark entered in the international register. It is also advisable to check whether the trademark is duly registered with respect to all of the goods and services that are manufactured and/or rendered by the company. Furthermore, given that the Cyrillic alphabet is used in the Russian Federation, for the effective protection of a company’s means of identification, it is also recommended to additionally register a Cyrillic version of the trademark. Such registration reduces the risk of bad faith competitors possibly emerging and also makes it possible to avoid the future necessity of proving that the company’s trademark and a Cyrillic trademark used by a third party are confusingly similar and that such use infringes the company’s rights.

Karlova-Ignatyeva’s solid advice ensures that a company entering Russian markets will retain rights to their IP and profit handsomely from the effort. Any one have any first-hand experience registering their innovations in Russia to share?

The Hill: Kim Hart’s recent piece, Tech industry splinters over patent reform proposal, highlights deepening rifts in a number of coalitions due to further changes to the Patent Reform Act introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here’s a snippet of her piece for the gentle reader’s enjoyment:

Leahy’s amendment includes measures to move to a first-inventor-to-file system, allow third parties to comment on pending patent applications and allow the Patent and Trademark Office to set fees to address its backlog problem, among others.

Leahy is pushing Senate leaders to schedule floor time for the bill. He reached the agreement with Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.).

“This compromise may not be everything that everyone wants, but it makes important reforms to the outdated patent system,” Leahy said Thursday.

Various groups have come out in favor of Leahy’s proposed amendment to the long overdue reform to US patent law including The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform and the Biotechnology Industry Organization while others have been less forthcoming on their feelings. “Intel and Dell may also take muted stances on the bill, even though they are members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, according to lobbyists.” And “Microsoft, while part of the coalition, has not come out against the bill.” Small endorsement, that. Overall, though, the tech industry sees no benefits to Leahy’s proposal. “The Coalition for Patent Fairness, which represents tech giants such as Intel, Google, Apple, Symantec and Oracle, has come out aggressively against the proposal from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

RIAA: The RIAA enlists the help of a children’s tale to explain how stealing/downloading/sharing music is killing big media. Here’s the premise of RIAA’s VP of Research, Joshua P. Friedlander’s, piece:

For any of you that have not read it, “Nobody Stole the Pie” (by Sonia Levitin) tells the story of the town of Little Digby and its giant annual lollyberry pie.  When one year the celebrated pie is gone, all the townsfolk who had picked away at it bit by bit claim it was “Not I” who stole the pie.

What Friedlander fails to point out is that digital music is not at all like a pie. No one “eats” digital files and then they are gone. Rather, they created digital copies increasing the size of the “pie” and there’s much more lollyberry goodness to go around for everyone, including Little Digby. Be sure to read Mike Masnick’s related piece, RIAA Takes The Cake: Equates File Sharing To Children’s Fairy Tale, for his take on this misguided attempt to caution Internet users not to eat pie. The comment section alone is worth the price of admission, trust me. Additionally, check out Friedlander’s Nobody Stole The Pie for a quaint, but nonsensical, attempt at a cautionary tale.

Bloomberg – BusinessWeek.com: Food patent giant Monsanto got its badonkadonk handed to it on a platter recently. Bloomberg’s Stephanie Bodoni has more on the difficulties Monsanto is having as they search for a new pair of patent pants to wear.

Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed company, can’t rely on a European patent for its Roundup Ready soybeans to block imports of Argentinean soy meal, an adviser to the European Union’s highest court said.

The European patent for the trait that makes soybeans resistant to some herbicides doesn’t extend to soy meal made from the patented seeds, Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi of the European Court of Justice said in a non-binding opinion today.

Argentina, the world’s third-biggest soybean exporter after Brazil and the U.S., is one of the few countries where Monsanto doesn’t hold a patent on the herbicide-resistant seeds. A ruling the European patent is enforceable may allow the company to block imports of Argentinean soy meal and related products.

And Monsanto isn’t going to take the ruling sitting down, either.

“The only reason we have this case is because of a very arbitrary and controversial decision 15 years ago to throw out all existing patent applications in Argentina,” denying the company its local patent on Roundup Ready soybeans, Lee Quarles, a Monsanto spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We have tried to find ways to be properly compensated for quite a while. This was one of those steps.”

To learn what the EU decision will mean for the future of genetically-modified food patents, be sure to read the rest of Bodoni’s Monsanto May Lose Bid to Halt Argentinean Soy Imports (Update2).

Vici Blog: Last but not least, read a cautionary tale explaining what protecting intellectual property is “really” all about in Dr. Sam Vaknin’s The Revolt of the Poor: The Demise of Intellectual Property? Here’s the takeaway for the IP reader in a hurry:

In the mythology generated by capitalism to pacify the masses, the myth of intellectual property stands out. It goes like this : if the rights to intellectual property were not defined and enforced, commercial entrepreneurs would not have taken on the risks associated with publishing books, recording records, and preparing multimedia products. As a result, creative people will have suffered because they will have found no way to make their works accessible to the public. Ultimately, it is the public which pays the price of piracy, goes the refrain.

Vaknin disputes the assertion that the public pays the price of piracy and makes a good argument for globally-varied pricing that would help poorer countries and software manufacturers benefit from increased sales and decreased piracy. A worthy read from a distant place.

Bonus IP piece o’ the day: Butting into Face by Guest Barista Shalini Menezes at PatentBaristas.com.