Uzbekistan’s Competition Watchdog Launches Register of IPR Infringers
On September 22, 2020, the Antimonopoly Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan (ACRU) launched a register of businesses found liable for unfair competition practices involving IPR infringement in 2020.
The register displays infringers’ names, the grounds for legal liability, a brief description of the infringement (including the name of the right holder, the number and date of the ACRU’s decision and information on infringer’s compliance with the decision), as well as the images of genuine and counterfeit or lookalike products.
The register aims to increase the transparency of the ACRU’s activities and raise awareness about potential liabilities associated with manufacturing IPR-infringing products.
Generally, if the competition regulations have been violated, the ACRU and its local divisions may decide to establish a breach of competition law and issue a decision ordering the infringer to cease the unfair practices. A right holder can bring an unfair competition action before the ACRU if they are the infringer’s direct competitor in Uzbekistan, in which case the right holder must provide evidence of their goods’ presence in Uzbekistan. It takes around one or two months for the ACRU to review a case and issue a ruling, but the decision is not fully enforceable until one month after it is issued, and it can be challenged within three months from the date it is issued before an administrative court. The court hearings can last from six months to two years until the final, incontestable ruling is obtained.
Bringing an unfair competition action as an option for enforcing IPRs can prove to be quite costly, time consuming and only moderately efficient due to:
- Low administrative fines for competition law violations – between EUR 91 (USD 108) and EUR 181 (USD 215) under Art. 178 of Uzbekistan’s Code on Administrative Liability;
- Absence of compulsory seizures and destructions of infringing goods and equipment; and
- The extreme difficulty in invoking criminal liability for repeat infringers under Art. 183 of the Criminal Code.
However, initiating an unfair competition action and obtaining a favorable ACRU ruling has shown to be influential in convincing 50-60% of infringers to cease their current activities as well as future infringements.
As Uzbekistan intends to accede to the WTO in the near future, it is expected that more efficient administrative and criminal measures against IPR violations will be adopted in the next few years.
By: Djakhangir Aripov
For more information, please contact Djakhangir Aripov at our Uzbekistan office.
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