Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Russia Takes Aim at 'Peppa Pig' In Copyright Battle

A Russian court dismisses eOne's trademark infringement case, and the government issues a decree allowing local companies to use IPs from brand owners in "unfriendly" countries without permission or payment.

Peppa Pig has gotten caught up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the development could have implications for other entertainment intellectual properties (IPs).

Entertainment One's (eOne) billion-dollar franchise has found itself at the heart of a Russian retaliatory strategy against economic sanctions. A Russian court has dismissed a case that eOne brought last year against a local entrepreneur who allegedly used the Peppa Pig trademark without permission. And the government has now doubled down on the ruling with its own decree allowing patented inventions and designs to be used without permission or compensation.

The decree opens the door to copyright infringement of brands from many territories that Russia has deemed to be unfriendly in recent weeks, including Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, the US, Japan and Switzerland. However, it’s likely that Russian companies will use the new rule change to stock up on devices, technologies and (in the case of the entertainment industry) kids content, which could be in short supply amid all the sanctions, according to a statement from Chicago-based law firm Baker McKenzie.

Last week, entertainment companies and platforms begun pulling out of Russia. Disney has pulled all of its business out of Russia after previously halting its film releases there - although, due to contracts, channels such as Disney Channels and National Geographic are still on-the-air. And Netflix is refusing to carry Russia’s state-backed channels on its platform, which it would have been required to do as of March 1 under a new law. Discovery group and WarnerMedia have also joined the boycott, meaning Russian viewers can no longer watch, among others Eurosport, Animal Planet, Cartoon Network and Boomerang.

And with Vladimir Putin's attempts to control what is and isn't reported about the illegal invasion of Ukraine, instead of displaying messages of why they've off-air, channels which have closed-down due to the conflict display messages that the channel is undergoing technical faults.

At the point of writing, Paramount Global's children's channels - Nickelodeon, Nicktoons and Nick Jr. - are still on-the-air, although their social media channels are no longer being updated.

Western broadcasters, which have decided to suspend their activities in the Russian Federation, still broadcast in neighboring countries. Some of the withdrawn stations can be viewed in Russian in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).

As the armed conflict has made many children refugees, Paramount Global is providing the youngest refugees fleeing the conflict with free entertainment dubbed and subbed in Ukrainian, including via a partnership with Player in Poland and a dedicated Nick Ukraine channel on Pluto TV in Germany.

To help Save the Children help as many children affected by the armed conflict as possible, please donate to Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

Original source: Kidscreen.

Russia says its businesses can steal patents from anyone in ‘unfriendly’ countries

Russia has effectively legalized patent theft from anyone affiliated with countries “unfriendly” to it, declaring that unauthorized use will not be compensated.

The decree, issued this week, illustrates the economic war waged around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the West levies sanctions and pulls away from Russia’s huge oil and gas industry. Russian officials have also raised the possibility of lifting restrictions on some trademarks, according to state media, which could allow continued use of brands such as McDonald’s that are withdrawing from Russia in droves.

The effect of losing patent protections will vary by company, experts say, depending on whether they have a valuable patent in Russia. The U.S. government has long warned of intellectual property rights violations in the country; last year Russia was among nine nations on a “priority watch list” for alleged failures to protect intellectual property. Now Russian entities could not be sued for damages if they use certain patents without permission.

The patent decree and any further lifting of intellectual property protections could affect Western investment in Russia well beyond any de-escalation of the war in Ukraine, said Josh Gerben, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington. Firms that already saw risks in Russian business would have more reason to worry.

“It’s just another example of how [Putin] has forever changed the relationship that Russia will have with the world,” Gerben said.

Russia’s decree removes protections for patent holders who are registered in hostile countries, do business in them or hold their nationality.

The Kremlin has not issued any decree lifting protections on trademarks. But Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development said last week that authorities are considering “removing restrictions on the use of intellectual property contained in certain goods whose supply to Russia is restricted,” according to Russian state news outlet Tass, and that potential measures could affect inventions, computer programs and trademarks.

The ministry said the measures would “mitigate the impact on the market of supply chain breaks, as well as shortages of goods and services that have arisen due to the new sanctions of western countries,” Tass stated.

Gerben said a similar decree on trademarks would pave the way for Russian companies to exploit American brand names that have halted their business in Russia. He gave a hypothetical involving McDonald’s, one of the latest global giants to suspend operations in Russia under public pressure.

McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola suspend business in Russia amid mounting public pressure

McDonald’s said Tuesday that it would temporarily close its 850 restaurants in Russia, a significant decision for a company that gets 9 percent of its revenue from Russia and Ukraine. Without trademark protections, Russia could “take those McDonald’s that got shut down and … just let local operators operate the restaurants and call them McDonald’s,” Gerben said.

Russia’s removal of intellectual property protections during wartime is not without precedent. Smithsonian Magazine describes how the German company Bayer lost its American patent on aspirin as the U.S. government seized property from firms associated with its enemies.


Additional source: spidersweb.pl.

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