As the digital economy moves forward, the need for an effective framework to manage intellectual property (IP) is becoming increasingly apparent; this system will primarily focus on the development of state-of-the-art IP protection methodology and its commercial applications. Russia is taking first steps towards that, which will help form a full-fledged IP market and adapt the law to the challenges of the digital economy.
The digital economy is about an ever-increasing flow of information, ideas and innovations. There is a virtual marketplace for instant exchange of various goods, like e-books, apps, digital games, music files, etc. With new social networks, messengers, media portals, stores, etc. springing up, the number of public online platforms is constantly increasing. The development of e‑commerce has pushed up the emergence of new trademarks and other IPs.
The journey towards a global IP regulatory framework is far from over, but some enablers have already been established.
Legal regulation. The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks harmonises the registration procedures of administrative trademarks in various countries and addresses the more recent developments in the field of communication technologies. Internet providers in a number of countries are obligated to notify their subscribers if their accounts are being used to distribute illegal content and warn them of the consequences of such activity. With the Trade Secrets Directive in the EU and the Defend Trade Secrets Act in the US, the trade secret legislation in 2016 was improved to guard assets from unauthorised use and theft in the process of global information exchange. A growing number of countries are establishing special courts and other bodies for resolving IP disputes.
Tools for global information checks that prevent the violation of IP rights. TMclass, an online search engine for registered trademarks, and the brand database of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Ascribe, Bitproof, Blockai, Stampery and other companies are using blockchain to help creators claim their copyrights.
Within the digital economy, IP is becoming a major source of profit. New methods of IP marketing and promotion are emerging.
For example, the heavily streamlined procedure of using new top-level domains opens up new opportunities. However, businesses are not yet ready to make full use of these advantages. According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), insufficient support of new domains and IDNs (domain names that make use of the language-specific alphabet) costs the economy USD 3.6 billion and USD 6.2 billion, respectively.
In Russia, IP protection is the purview of several government agencies: the Federal Service For Intellectual Property (Rospatent), Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Education and Science. Recent years saw some improvements in respective laws, with an IP Court established within the system of commercial courts starting 2013 and tougher penalties introduced for IP theft.
However, government regulation in this sphere is often playing catch-up with the international standards. Patents are not an officially open source, and IP registration is a time-consuming process inconsistent with the realities of the digital economy. Copyright protection is enabled by the anti-piracy law, but it fails to fully eradicate illegal content.
Last year, the President signed off on the Scientific and Technological Development Strategy of the Russian Federation, which envisions a system of technological transfer, management and protection of intellectual property.
The National Intellectual Initiative (NII) is a set of measures that aims to create a competitive IP market and an open digital market for intellectual rights. The NII projects include an IPNet roadmap and an open public web platform for blockchain-enabled IP management.
An important element of building up an IP framework is ensuring Russia’s rights to IP both domestically and globally. This year, the Russian Export Center, Rospatent and Innopraktika Fund are planning to collaborate on a concept and an action plan for establishing IP protection centres abroad.