The Narodnaya Vola Lost Its Trade Mark
From now on the trademark “Narodnaya Vola” belongs to businessman Siarhei Atroshchanka. This was confirmed on July 1 by the board of appeal of the National Center of Intellectual Property, which left its decision of December 2003 in effect.
Siarhei Atroshchanka might demand from the Narodnaya Volya to change its title. However, the newspaper editor-in-chief Iosif Siaredzich claims he will not allow any “rogue” to use the title. The newspaper representatives plan to appeal against the decision to higher instances.
The hearing began on June 30. Narodnaya Volya representatives – patent agent Eduard Svirski and commercial manager Yawhenia Tserakhava – claim registration of the trade mark was a mistake. “This is a brand name, protected by Art 50 of the Civic Code, -- stresses Eduard Svirski, -- thus Siaredzich has the exclusive right to this brand name. The Civic Code is higher in the law hierarchy than the Law on trade marks”.
Iosif Siaredzich registered Narodnaya Volya as a mass medium almost 9 years ago. Nobody ever challenged his authorship of the brand name. There is no doubt Atroshchanka knew about the brand name when registering his trade mark: the businessman has sued the newspaper a number of times; besides that, the journal has high circulation and is distributed all over Belarus.
According to the Law “On trademarks”, which has come into force since January 1, 2004, Atroshchanka wouldn’t be able to register the trademark as his own: the Law prohibits registering a trade mark coinciding with a newspaper title without the agreement of the newspaper founder. The previous law did not contain this provision. Representatives of the Narodnaya Vola are concerned about the fact how promptly Atroshchanka managed to use the old law: it took him 3 days to register the trade mark, although usually it takes up to 12 months to get the certificate from the expert committee.
“The image of the newspaper is seriously damaged, because the owner of the trademark can appeal to relevant bodies to stop the newspaper with the title “Narodnaya Vola”, -- says Mikhail Pastukhow, head of the Center of Legal Defense of Mass Media at the Belarusian Association of Journalists. He believes the decision of the board of appeal is politically motivated.
“Now, similarly to this case, one can register a CNN or Forbes trademark in Belarus, and not let these mass media to the country’s market, -- warns patent agent Eduard Svirski, -- if you have a trademark certificate, you can force out anyone from the country…”