Intellectual Property In a Time of War

The world’s attention is now focused on the ongoing situation in Ukraine. However, the battle lines are not always easily seen on a map. In modern warfare, even intellectual property rights can be caught in the crossfire.

As part of its response to the war, the United States joined other countries in declaring economic sanctions against Russia. One ongoing situation involves existing intellectual property rights in Russia that are up for maintenance. Filings would involve financial payments to the Federal Service for Intellectual Property of the Russian Federation, known as Rospatent. Presently, it is recommended that companies in this situation contact the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for current guidance regarding those payments.

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. companies doing business in Russia have had difficult choices to make. Russia has already announced that it will not enforce the patent rights of those from countries it deems “unfriendly.” The McDonalds Corporation, for example, closed all its locations in Russia. It is believed that the physical stores may be seized and reopened under new ownership. A new trademark application was recently filed in Russia which shows the McDonalds logo on its side above the words “Uncle Vanya” in Cyrillic, which could signal plans to reopen the restaurants.

We will continue to monitor this developing situation. If you have specific questions regarding protection of your business’s intellectual property rights, please contact Kevin Thompson at or (312) 368-0100 or schedule an appointment via