Gogol never dreamed of this! How sheep wool is fighting against the Smart Voting system

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Gogol never dreamed of this! How sheep wool is fighting against the Smart Voting system
Gogol never dreamed of this! How sheep wool is fighting against the Smart Voting system
10 September, 14:27PoliticsPhoto: Твиттер
A sheep wool processing company, by registering a new trademark, risks losing its customers.

Moses Gelman

In Dagestan, there is one small, but cost-efficiently operating enterprise LLC VulInterTrade, registered in Nevinnomyssk, Stavropol Territory. It has only two employees on its staff. The company buys unwashed sheep wool, cleans it and then sells it on the market. For 2020, revenue amounted to a solid amount of 43.474 million rubles with a profit of 3.932 million. Recently, the founder of the company decided to significantly expand its activities and on June 26 this year filed an application for registration of a trademark and a service mark with the Patent Office. They are intended for "individualization", as it is not quite correctly stated in the Civil Code, of the objects of activity of commodity producers. Entrepreneurs mark their goods, works and services with such signs so that consumers can distinguish them from similar goods (works, services) of other producers.

Usually applications in Rospatent are considered from six months to a year or more. But WoolInterTrade's application was registered on August 10, that is, less than 1.5 months later. It seems to me that the relevance, uniqueness and originality of the trademark name - "Smart Voting", played a huge role in speeding up the registration. His artistic image (see Fig.) In the form of a square with an exclamation mark seems to hint at the presence of intelligence in a potential buyer of the same sheep wool, calling on his subconsciousness to jump out of the “case” of previous ideas and vote with his ruble for a good product. The expedited registration of patents was also prompted by the applicant's booking with this sign of legal protection of a huge range of objects from those listed in the International Classification of Goods and Services. They are indicated in the description of the application and by eye their number is about a thousand (state registration number 823798). This means that the Smart Voting trademark and service mark will reliably protect WoolInterTrade from attacks on attribution by someone of the authorship of many goods and services that the company intends to produce in addition to cleaning sheep's wool.

The scope of the plans of the owner of the LLC is enormous. At the beginning of a large list of products and services are agar-agar for industrial purposes, nitrogen, anemones, alkaloids, alginates for the food industry, etc. And at the end of the list are such activities as marriage agencies, detective agencies, night security agencies, child adoption agencies, arbitration, lease of domain names on the Internet, etc. Presumably, night security will also be needed for flocks of sheep, future objects of shearing , since the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs alone will not be enough for this.

Naturally, with such a "huge number of plans", the clever owner had to take care of the judicial protection of the objects of his future interests. Therefore, on September 1 of this year, WoolInterTrade applied to the Moscow Arbitration Court with a claim to protect its trademark from illegal encroachments on the use of it by other persons through the search engines Yandex and Google. The plaintiff believes that the display of the phrase “smart voting” by search engines on the screens of computer monitors and gadgets causes material damage to his commercial interests. The Arbitration Court of Moscow adheres to the same opinion, while temporarily, without considering the case on the merits. He accepted the suit for consideration, scheduled a hearing in November, and, as an interim measure, prohibited Google and Yandex from displaying the phrase “smart voting” on the Internet. However, I have reason to doubt the validity of this decision. And that's why.

As noted, an individual trademark is used to identify a product, work or service of a certain manufacturer, in order to distinguish them in this way from similar products (works, services) of other firms. In cases of works and services, the trademark is called a service mark. Trademarks are subdivided into different types - logos, brands, trademarks, etc. A registered trademark belongs to only one owner and no one else has the right to use this brand without his permission.

The list of works and services for which WoolInterTrade has registered a trademark does not include the subject of abstract activity “smart voting”. What will the court be able to answer if Google and Yandex pay attention to this circumstance?

At the same time, according to Art. 1483 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation "state registration as trademarks of designations without distinctiveness is not allowed". The phrase “smart voting” is significantly different from the image of the WoolInterTrade trademark, which also contains graphic elements. For this reason alone, the objectivity of the prohibition to use the mentioned phrase for display in search engines seems questionable.

As you know, search engines do not respond to pictures, but to words. By demanding to block the phrase "smart voting", WoolInterTrade will thereby block the search for its trademark as well. All this reminds me of an episode of Gogol's comedy "The Inspector General ("Revizor" in Russian - editor's note). The character of the play The Governor, who personally whipped a non-commissioned officer's widow, claimed that she had whipped herself.

If the lawsuit does not hide other intentions, the numerous conspiracy versions of which are published by different sources, then it is not clear how blocking the trademark name on social networks will protect it from encroachments by other persons. After all, its description is published in the state register of trademarks, and is available to everyone who wants to get acquainted with it without any court intervention.

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