While Russia has long protected trade secrets through the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection and the Trade Secret Law, amendments to the Russian Criminal Code on June 29, 2015 now substantially increase liability for disclosure of trade secrets. Illegal disclosure of trade secrets may now result in more serious consequences, including increased fines equal to as much as three years’ wages for disclosure. READ MORE
Posts by: Olga Anisimova
Imagine that you are the General Director of a company (the Russian equivalent of an American CEO), and your information security department finds out that an employee, who you have long suspected of industrial espionage, has sent important confidential information belonging to the company to his personal email address. In that situation, what would you do? Would you (a) do nothing for the moment and wait until you have more definite proof of industrial espionage; (b) make the employee tell you why he sent the information to his personal email address; or (c) dismiss the employee? Clearly, you need to find out who the information is being sent to and maintain your reputation for enforcing the rules.
New amendments to Russian law take aim at the theft of trade secrets by employees, with especially tough penalties for thieving CEOs.
The amendments to Russia’s Trade Secret Law became effective October 1, 2014. The goal of these amendments is to increase the protection of trade secrets by stiffening penalties for unauthorized disclosures by employees.
As the world prepares to descend on Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Trade Secrets Watch decided to take a look at how effective trade secret protections are in Russia.
Although Russia has fairly robust trade secret laws, Russian companies have generally been reluctant to seek legal redress for trade secret violations. According to studies conducted by market research agencies, about 90 percent of Russian companies have at some stage suffered from the theft of trade secrets. Although such theft can be a criminal offense, in most cases companies faced with this problem try to deal with it by themselves. In only 5 percent of cases do they initiate legal proceedings. READ MORE
The primary laws governing Russian trade secrets are the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection and the Trade Secret Law. The Civil Code, the Labor Code, the Criminal Code, and the Code of Administrative Offenses provide additional statutory protection for trade secrets.
The Information Law defines trade secrets as “information to which access is limited.” Under the Trade Secret Law a trade secret is “any information (production, technical, economic, organizational, information, etc.) which has an actual or potential commercial value because it is unknown to third parties and because third parties do not have free access to it by legitimate means, and with respect to which the holder of such information has implemented a trade secrecy system.” Not all information may constitute a trade secret: the Trade Secret Law expressly lists categories of information that may not be a trade secret (e.g., information on the environment, population, or violations of law).
Russia’s new Intellectual Property Court is now open for business, with 16 judges hearing trade secret, patent, trademark and other IP disputes.
The IP Court was officially established in 2011, and it started operation in Moscow on July 3, 2013.
The jurisdiction of the IP Court is limited: it handles cases involving disputes over the establishment and validity of IP rights as a court of first instance, and IP infringement cases as an appellate or cassation court. Civil cases on copyright protection, as well as criminal and administrative cases, are outside its jurisdiction. However, IP experts believe that it is only a matter of time before the court’s jurisdiction is expanded to include more types of IP disputes.