Parallel imports case in Russia

In early 2013 our client, a major multinational lubricants manufacturer, became aware of a parallel imports of their products being offered for sale by a trader called OEM Oil.

Unlike most countries, Russia follows the principle of national exhaustion of rights, so that unauthorised parallels are, prima facie, actionable in Russia.

We effected a notarial purchase of samples from an outlet in Moscow which was shown on OEM’s website as being an authorised distributor in the capital. Whilst this revealed details of the seller we also needed to find out exactly who was behind the website in case this led to different, connected, parties. The way to do this in Russia is to simply write to the Registrar requesting details of the domain name owner. Most Registrars will provide this information within 3-4 weeks. If they don’t a quick application to court is necessary. In this case the Registrar was co-operative and revealed the domain name owner to be a company in Rostov-on-Don called Ravenol.

Civil actions were filed in Moscow – against the identified seller – and Rostov – against the identified domain name owner – in mid July 2013. These were the first civil actions filed by our newly opened Moscow office.

The case in Rostov was completed first. In just 2 months, and having required 3 hearings, the court decided in our client’s favour. Ravenol was ordered to stop its infringing activity and to pay compensation to our client in the full amount claimed.

Just 2 weeks later, we were similarly successful in Moscow, this time having needed only 2 hearings.

Two months from filing to first instance judgement is exceptional for a civil action anywhere in the world. It is quick for Russia as well, but not exceptionally so – we advise clients to expect judgement in about 6 months. And with a process so swift and relatively straightforward, costs were extremely reasonable as well.