Russia and UK IP business

The current situation in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion is complex and fast-moving.  Guidance on the UK Government’s sanctions can be found on the GOV.UK website

Payments to Russian firms

CIPA has provided us with the following information about making payments to Russian firms:

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation is subject to UK sanctions. It is widely understood that the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Rospatent, banks at the Central Bank.  Many CIPA members have therefore asked the question:

If I pay a non-sanctioned Russian agent, or organisation, in order to file/maintain rights and that payment ends up with the Central Bank, am I in breach of sanctions?

Following meetings with government officials, it is CIPA’s understanding that fees can be paid to Rospatent without fear of breaching sanctions, unless they are being paid by, or on behalf of, someone on the UK sanctions list. This is because the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has been designated in a different way to commercial banks. The relevant regulation prohibits the provision of financial services, not the filing and maintaining of IP rights.

CIPA members have also enquired about the status of UniCredit, in relation to the filing of Eurasian patent applications. It is CIPA’s understanding that UniCredit is not subject to UK sanctions.

You should not consider the above guidance as legal advice and should make your own checks regarding sanctioned individuals and organisations using the links provided on the IPReg website.

IPReg Guidance

IPReg cannot provide you with legal advice on whether any actions or business with Russian clients, Russian government departments or the Russian IPO would engage the UK Government’s sanctions directives.  However, IPReg has published Guidance on what it would expect firms to do when they are considering what action to take on an issue relating to sanctions.

Government helpdesk details

You may be assisted by the Government’s dedicated helpdesk which has been set up to answer questions about trading with Russia.  The Export Support Service can also be contacted online or by telephone: 0300 303 8955. 

OFSI 

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has issued guidance on trading with Russia. It also publishes a blog which you may find useful. 

You should note in particular:

  • Your reporting obligations if you think you are dealing with a sanctions target; and 
  • The obligation to apply for a licence from OFSI to deal with or make funds or economic resources available to a sanctions target.

Please notify IPReg if you apply for a licence from OFSI. 

OFSI publishes a Consolidated List of financial sanctions targets. It has a "fuzzy search" tool which will find matches in the Consolidated List even when users misspell search terms or enter only partial words for the search. 

National Crime Agency Guidance 

The National Crime Agency has issued a red alert about Financial Sanctions Evasion Typologies: Russian Elites and Enablers. The purpose of the alert is to provide information from law enforcement and the legal and financial services sectors as to some common techniques designated persons (DPs) and their UK enablers are suspected to be using to evade financial sanctions.

UKIPO and EPO statements 

The UKIPO and the EPO have issued statements and their websites should be checked for any updates.

Practical Law - free toolkit

You may find that this toolkit on the Practical Law website provides useful information. 

Due diligence 

If you are unsure about the legal and funding status of your client in view of the sanctions experienced by some Russian businesses, please check with your due diligence team and/or obtain independent legal advice.  This might be prudent even if your direct client is not technically an organisation incorporated in Russia.

Cyber Security

The National Cyber Security Centre has issued guidance on steps that organisations can take to improve security in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and a heightened cyber threat.  You should read this guidance and take appropriate action to protect your systems and people from the threat of an attack.

If you are the victim of a cyber attack, please refer to IPReg’s dedicated webpage and report the matter to us if there has been a regulatory breach or the possibility of harm to client information or money.