On May 5, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury published General License No. 31, authorizing certain intellectual property-related transactions in Russia that were previously prohibited by the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations (31 C.F.R. Part 587) imposed by the U.S. in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The announcement provides some much-needed clarification for U.S. owners of Russian IP in view of the ongoing sanctions.
Under the general license, the following transactions are now authorized:
1. The filing and prosecution of any application to obtain a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection;
2. The receipt of a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection;
3. The renewal or maintenance of a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection; and
4. The filing and prosecution of any opposition or infringement proceeding with respect to a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection, or the entrance of a defense to any such proceeding.
The general license, however, does not authorize certain banking transactions, including (1) the opening or maintaining of a correspondent account or payable-through account for or on behalf of any Russian financial institution subject to sanctions, (2) debits to any Russian financial institution, and (3) importation of products into the U.S. that are prohibited by sanctions.
While General License No. 31 provides guidance regarding authorized IP transactions, U.S. entities will likely want to consider the value (or the potential lack thereof) of Russian IP when deciding whether to file new applications or maintain existing IP protection. For example, the ability to obtain compensation for infringement of IP in Russia held by entities from “unfriendly” countries, including the U.S. and a quarter of the world’s other countries, has been brought into question by recent rulings in Russia.