President Vladimir Putin: I am listening to you, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich.
Vyacheslav Lebedev: The court has quite a large number of cases before it, unfortunately. But at the same time, the number of cases shows that people are now turning to the courts and that they see the courts as an institution that can protect their lawful interests and rights.
We have been giving a lot of attention to protecting intellectual property rights of late, and the Supreme Court plenum has now drawn up a draft resolution on practice in examining cases related to criminal law protection of violations of intellectual property rights, related rights, patents and inventors’ rights, and also the practice in examining cases related to unlawful use of trademarks.
This is a very topical matter today, and I must say that the number of cases concerning violations of intellectual property and related rights has been growing over recent years. Over the last year, there has been an almost four-fold increase compared to the previous year. This shows that the law enforcement agencies are working harder to detect these crimes, which have an increasingly high profile today, but at the same time, quite a few questions are now being raised in the courts on the application of criminal law provisions in this area.
Our resolution will clarify and set out the grounds for laying criminal charges for the manufacture of counterfeit goods and the violation of related rights. The resolution will clarify what to do with counterfeit goods: as for now, it can be either destroyed or returned to the owner of the rights. But what is also very important is that, this year the issue will be settled regarding confiscation of the equipment used to manufacture counterfeit goods.
The resolution explains to judges the relation between the criminal law provisions set out in the Criminal Code and the civil law provisions, because the Criminal Code contains blanket provisions [in cases where elements of the legal violation in question are partially or fully undefined in the Criminal Code, reference can be made instead to other, non-criminal, laws and (or) regulations and statutes that define the elements not defined in the provisions of the Criminal Code – Ed.] This will help the judges find their way around more quickly in this rather complex subject matter.
I think that this will settle many of the questions our partners have regarding Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, because they have also been paying attention to the fact that a lot of illegal and counterfeit production is going on in our country – audio and video products and various computer programmes. I think that if we coordinate our work with the law enforcement agencies we will succeed in changing this situation.