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Russia, EU Launch Joint Patent Program

The Federal Service for Intellectual Property and the European Patent Office on Tuesday launched a joint project aiming to make the two bodies’ patent systems more compatible.

The European Commission has invested 500,000 euros ($744,000) in the project, which aims to work with the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, or Rospatent, to strengthen Russian intellectual property legislation and protection.

“This is in fact a three-party cooperation project of the European Commission, Rospatent and the European Patent Office. Since we have common trade and investments, we need to see how we can bring the two sides together in terms of intellectual property patents,” said Etienne Claeye, head of operations at the EU-Russia Cooperation Programme.

“This project will help Rospatent strengthen its capacity in the area of intellectual property rights,” Claeye told The Moscow Times.

Russia has lagged behind its peers in the developed world in its protection of intellectual property rights, with lax standards for piracy and other infringements becoming a major sticking point in talks over Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

The program’s participants hope that the program will be implemented within a year and lead to a more streamlined process for foreign firms to obtain patents in Russia.

After identifying divergences between Russian and European patent legislation, the European Patent Office will send recommendations to Rospatent on changes to Russian legislation.

The office will then offer guidance to Rospatent on examining and approving patent applications.

“Our legislation on intellectual property is harmonized, the problem is that we have very little law enforcement experience so far,” said Boris Simonov, head of the Federal Service for Intellectual Property. “We hope to look at the experience of other countries in the area of intellectual property protection.”

“Based on the experience of our European colleagues, we’ll be able to find out whether there are any amendments needed in our legislation,” he said.

Modernizing the country’s intellectual property system is an important step toward the development of an innovation economy, as Russia seeks to wean itself from its dependence on commodity exports. “Since business is largely based on innovation today, it’s necessary to make innovation work effectively in Russia and the EU and to let the two spaces exchange the results of their intellectual property,” said Yevgeny Ariyevich, an intellectual property attorney at Baker & McKenzie. “It’s also necessary to make compatible the Russian and European mechanisms for determining patentability.”

Ariyevich, who is also a member of the Association of European Businesses, said foreign pharmaceutical companies especially found Russian patent expertise to be more demanding and complicated than those in Europe.

The project will also review the possibility of extending the period for which pharmaceutical products are protected.

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