In another recent IP development, the Russian government has now given the go ahead for foreign goods to be imported into the country without the consent of the intellectual property rights holders.

Russia’s Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, recently announced that in view of the wealth of sanctions to which Russia is currently subjected, they have legalised the parallel import of foreign goods into the country. This means that non-counterfeit goods can now be imported into Russia without the permission of the intellectual property rights holders. Presumably, they want their citizens to still have access to goods and technologies enjoyed by those in other territories so as not to further increase the risk of the public becoming disenfranchised.

Generally, where goods have been put on the market by, or with the consent of, the owner of the IP rights, the rights will be exhausted and can no longer be used to prevent or control sales or distribution of the goods. For example, this underpins how online marketplaces or second-hand goods shops operate. However, just because a business places goods on the market in one territory does not automatically mean they can be imported into another territory in which the business has not placed their goods on the market. This would be parallel importation and it is exactly what Russia has now legalised.

Heavy economic sanctions and the withdrawal of major global businesses from the country are clearly weighing down on Russia’s economy and it is becoming increasingly evident that they are happy to disregard the intellectual property rights of holders in “unfriendly countries” if need be. Unfortunately, it would not be surprising if we see further assaults on IP rights in the weeks to come as the war in Ukraine develops.