A year has passed since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian armed forces. During these unprecedented times of martial law, effective in Ukraine as of 24 February 2022, the IP system of Ukraine continues to operate. Moreover, it demonstrates the ability to adapt and evolve. In this topic, we provide a concise IP-related overview of how Ukraine’s judiciary, law enforcement and other governmental agencies functioned in 2022.
The Council of Judges emphasized on 24 February 2022 that a constitutional right to judicial protection cannot be limited and provided the respective recommendations to all courts across Ukraine.
During the first months of the full-scale invasion the courts mainly considered high-priority cases, including criminal proceedings and national security issues. However, from May 2022 the situation began to level off, and nowadays most courts work in a regular mode, commence new proceedings and handle hearings in IP matters as usual. Furthermore, the resumption of access to the online court register allows IP owners and their representatives to track and analyze court practice without restrictions.
The Ukrainian Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) ensures the stable functioning of Ukraine’s IP system and works regularly, including via the online filing system, as they have mounted an autonomous energy supply.
Additional supporting mechanisms for IP owners and applicants were established by the Law of Ukraine "On Protection of Interests of Persons in the Sphere of Intellectual Property during Martial Law" (hereinafter – the Law) effective as of 13 April 2022. According to the Law, the terms for the acquisition and protection of IP rights are suspended during martial law in Ukraine, including the deadlines for the following actions: (i) renewal or reinstatement of IP rights; (ii) oppositions; (iii) challenging the PTO decisions in court or before the PTO Appeals Chamber; (iv) invalidating patents. However, these days a new draft law has been prepared that will likely affect the suspension of deadlines for certain actions before the PTO.
Yet more, the IP system enjoyed significant structural transformations in November 2022, meaning that a recently established Ukrainian National Office for Intellectual Property and Innovation (UANIPIO) took over the PTO functions from Ukrainian Intellectual Property Institute (Ukrpatent).
The State Customs Service of Ukraine operates without any limitations, provided that the significantly increased amounts of humanitarian supply should be allowed into Ukrainian territory with the highest priority under a simplified procedure.
In addition, the following legislative amendments were adopted regarding the protection of IP rights at the customs border during the martial law: (i) the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has the right to determine the categories of goods which the customs authorities shall not monitor for compliance with IP rights during customs clearance; (ii) the terms of registration of IP rights in the Customs IP Registry extend automatically.
The law enforcement agencies, including the National Police of Ukraine, the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine gradually resumed their efforts to tackle counterfeits, conduct raids against manufacturers of falsified products, and investigate online IP crimes. For instance, the Cyberpolice Department of the National Police of Ukraine and the PTO officials have recently announced joint training sessions to effectively cease online copyright infringements.
Thus, the IP system remains stable and provides rightsholders with the necessary support during wartime in Ukraine.