Russia Says Its Businesses Can Steal Patents From Anyone In ‘Unfriendly’ Countries

Russia has effectively legalized patent theft from anyone affiliated with countries “unfriendly” to it, declaring that unauthorized use will not be compensated. The Washington Post reports: The decree, issued this week, illustrates the economic war waged around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the West levies sanctions and pulls away from Russia’s huge oil and gas industry. Russian officials have also raised the possibility of lifting restrictions on some trademarks, according to state media, which could allow continued use of brands such as McDonald’s that are withdrawing from Russia in droves. The effect of losing patent protections will vary by company, experts say, depending on whether they have a valuable patent in Russia. The U.S. government has long warned of intellectual property rights violations in the country; last year Russia was among nine nations on a “priority watch list” for alleged failures to protect intellectual property. Now Russian entities could not be sued for damages if they use certain patents without permission.

The patent decree and any further lifting of intellectual property protections could affect Western investment in Russia well beyond any de-escalation of the war in Ukraine, said Josh Gerben, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington. Firms that already saw risks in Russian business would have more reason to worry. “It’s just another example of how [Putin] has forever changed the relationship that Russia will have with the world,” Gerben said. Russia’s decree removes protections for patent holders who are registered in hostile countries, do business in them or hold their nationality.

The Kremlin has not issued any decree lifting protections on trademarks. But Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development said last week that authorities are considering “removing restrictions on the use of intellectual property contained in certain goods whose supply to Russia is restricted,” according to Russian state news outlet Tass, and that potential measures could affect inventions, computer programs and trademarks. The ministry said the measures would “mitigate the impact on the market of supply chain breaks, as well as shortages of goods and services that have arisen due to the new sanctions of western countries,” Tass stated. Gerben said a similar decree on trademarks would pave the way for Russian companies to exploit American brand names that have halted their business in Russia. He gave a hypothetical involving McDonald’s, one of the latest global giants to suspend operations in Russia under public pressure.

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Google Found To Have Violated Sonos Patents, Blocking Import of Google Devices

An anonymous reader quotes a report from XDA Developers: In January of 2020, Sonos filed two lawsuits against Google, claiming that the latter stole its multiroom speaker technology and infringed on 100 patents. In September, Sonos then sued Google alleging that the company’s entire line of Chromecast and Nest products violated five of Sonos’ wireless audio patents. A judge (preliminarily) ruled in favor of Sonos. Now it’s gone from bad to worse for Google, as the preliminary findings have been finalized by the U.S. International Trade Commission. As a result, Google is not allowed to import any products that violate patents owned by Sonos, which Sonos argues includes Google Pixel phones and computers, Chromecasts, and Google Home/Nest speakers.

These products produced by Google are often made outside of the United States and imported, hence why this is a big deal for Google. In the ruling (PDF) (via The New York Times), Google was also served a cease & desist in order to stop violating Sonos’ patents. It has been theorized that as a result of the lawsuit, Google had removed Cast volume controls in Android 12, though it was recently added back with the January 2022 security patch. Sonos has previously said that it had proposed a licensing deal to Google for patents the company was making use of, but that neither company was able to reach an agreement. […] There are still two more lawsuits pending against Google filed by Sonos, meaning that it’s unlikely this is the last we’ve heard of this spat.

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