Food And Beverage
Western firms with iconic brands like McDonald’s that exit Russia face years of battling knockoffs and unauthorized imports bickering to fill their shoes, a risky bid as Russian courts show little sympathy for firms that depart.
Firms exited Russia this spring, after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine, in response to public and investor pressure. Some, like Coca-Cola Co, finalized their exit in August, while others, such as McDonald’s Corp, sold their businesses. Some, including the likes of Procter & Gamble Co, partially remained, selling essentials.
These firms are now defending their trademarks to protect their brands from losing value and in case they ever return to the nation, intellectual property (IP) lawyers said.
However, the exited firms face a sea of importers, opportunists, and flip-flop court rulings.
According to court documents and interviews with lawyers, Coca-Cola is already ensnared in fights against grey-market goods, which are unauthorized imports, and Russian knockoffs of its Fanta line.
Despite Russia’s government IP agency, Rospatent, receiving an influx of applications for trademarks of Western brands popular in the nation, the Russian government is allowing businesses to use patents from countries deemed “unfriendly.”
Russia also permits grey-market imports for products spanning from carefree feminine products to any footwear brand.