Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) continues springing surprises on the operators of the market of intellectual property protection with the help of its paradoxical solutions, including the costs it sets for its own services.
The dust barely settled after the scandal connected with Rospatent’s willingness to improve its performance by all means and to reduce the time for consideration of applications in detriment of the quality of rendered services, as the Federal Service made another "misstep".
First of all, it should be noted that Rospatent failed to respond to the criticism addressed to it in September. In spite of the fact that Grigory Ivliev, the head of Rospatent, very often addressed various press-conferences during the last four months, he never bothered to answer the criticism over the quality of public services rendered by his agency.
There is no information in the open sources about a person who is currently responsible for the formation of KPI indicators in the agency. However, it is obvious that this person (or a group of people) manages his or her job poorly. As a result, it appears that today, the priority for Rospatent is to create an illusion of its own popularity, for which real performance indicators are not so crucial. What is more important is the "gross output plan" -- the number of received and handled applications, as well as the volume of collected fees. The fact that the race for the indices is accompanied by the general reduction of the exactingness in what concerns the scrutiny of applications and the declining overall quality of protective activitities seems to be of secondary importance for the management of Rospatent.
It is also obvious that the agency cares strongly about how much money it is paid and what exactly for. The main thing is to be paid and as much as possible. All the operators of the intellectual property protection market become victims of such a counterintuitive logic. For example, it is difficult to understand why the access to the databases of the Federal Institute for Industrial Property (FIPS) (an organization subordinate to Rospatent) to search for a trademark application costs 5 (five!) times more than if you search for a registered trademark? Thus, a search for registered trademarks costs 60 rubles while a search for applications costs 300 rubles.
In both cases a customer uses the same resource (the FIPS site). The difference between the search for registered trademarks and trademark applications lies in the number of ticks put in the form of requests. The database of registered trademarks and trademark applications is one and the same because before being registered, the trademark is going through the stage of a trademark application and is already included in the database. After making a decision on registration the trademark application is assigned a certificate number.
At the same time, during the search for registered trademarks, goods, innovations, utility models and industrial samples, many more documents from the FIPS database are processed than during the search for trademark applications. Nevertheless, according to Rospatent, it is the search for applications that should cost 5 times more.
Quite probably, when establishing the cost of search with the difference by a factor of five, FIPS employees did not take into account the costs for the resources involved but determined the cost of search by the so called "box ticking" approach. Maxim Labzin, senior partner of INTELLECT law firm believes that there was no logic in Rospatent’s actions. He is confident that there is no sense in different costs of these two services at all:
- It is just a matter of automatic computer selection of all more or less similar names from a common database, which means that the real labor costs for the rendering of this service are minimal both in the first and in the second case. Therefore, it is not necessary to make one request more expensive, and the other cheaper, says Labzin.
In the current situation, we are faced with either a systematic making of super profits on a relatively simple search by applications and unjustified enrichment, or else the systematic income deficiency in the budget of the enterprise when making a more time-consuming search in the database of registered certificate, as well as the subsidizing of this service from the budget of the Russian Federation. However, in both cases the situation does not make either Rospatent or its management look any better.
Still, as it has been already mentioned, the management of the Federal Service for Intellectual Property does not seem to care much about the criticism addressed to it. Moreover, it seems that Grigory Ivliev, the head of Rospatent, believes he is so invincible that he allows himself to get into open conflicts with entire ministries. For example, in the summer of 2018, in the framework of providing public services for the state registration of industrial samples, trademarks, service marks, collective marks and the issuing of relevant patents and their duplicates, Rospatent adopted orders for the approval of guidelines for the implementation of administrative procedures and actions.
The Ministry of Justice has made a just conclusion that the "guidelines," which Rospatent uses for the examination of applications for trademarks and industrial samples, are regulatory documents and, therefore, should be registered at the ministry. However, Rospatent refused to recognize its orders as regulatory acts and opened a long dispute both with the Ministry of Justice and the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. In order to cancel the disputed acts, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had to intervene in the situation personally and sign the resolution of December 18, 2019, on cancellation of Rospatent’s controversial orders №127 and №128.