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Russian FAS Against Unjustified Parallel Imports Restrictions

Jul 31 2017 - 14:51

On July 14, 2017, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) issued written admonitions to four companies – Daimler AG, Renault S.A., YD Diagnostics and KYB Corporation, for not issuing permission letters or failing to respond to requests for such letters from unauthorized importers of related goods to Russian Federation.

FAS considers such actions as acts of unfair competition and believes that companies cannot prohibit importation of authentic products even if they are imported by unauthorized importers.

On July 17, through an official statement, FAS reconfirmed their position stating that a right holder can successfully initiate civil proceedings against a parallel importer only if the latter did not request a permission letter.

The new FAS practice regarding parallel importers and permission letters is de facto ‘repealing’ Art. 1484 of the Russian Civil Code, according to which parallel imports constitute trademark infringement. This practice, if confirmed by the courts and eventually the legislature, would preclude any efforts from right holders to control parallel importers, because it would be possible to prevent any civil action against a parallel importer by arguing that no permission letter was issued, despite being requested, and parallel importers would be even able to counterclaim based on unfair competition.

The only exception would be companies with manufacturing sites in Russia. These companies will (continue to) be able to prevent parallel imports into Russia.

The companies in question can appeal against written admonitions within 30 days of receipt.

By: Sitora Rakhmanova

For more information, please contact Sitora Rakhmanova at our Russia office.

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