Mr. Nurzhan Stamkulov, Ms. Dina
Kazakhstan legal framework provides a legal protection
for owners of intellectual property. This article focuses on trademark
infringement and legal actions available to
use of brand can be done whether fully or partially. For instance, Apple Inc.
has a registered trademark Apple. Let’s assume, company B in Kazakhstan
produces electronic products under with logo Apple on it. Such use will be
considered as an identical copy of all trademark elements. This identical copy will
be regarded as a trademark infringement.
The most popular type of trademark infringement is a partial copying to make it
confusingly similar to the trademark. The Kazakhstan laws consider it as a
whole to the extent of mixture of different elements of the trademark. The
infringer simply imitates a trademark, for example, Colgate and Сoldate, Adidas
and Adibas, Samsung and Sumsung.
Our practice shows that trademark infringement by full
copying are decreasing, while the partial copying to get consumer confusion,
are getting more frequent in Kazakhstan. It is not hard to prove in Kazakh
court that full copying of the brand is an obvious infringement. However, to establish trademark infringement
in cases of mixed copying is a much complicated task for a legal practitioner
in Kazakhstani court.
Import regulations. The import of goods to Kazakhstan without the
brand owner consent is almost impossible. The customs authorities will not give their permission.
For example, some local company imports to Kazakhstan air conditioning
equipment with Panasonic logo. Let’s assume the importer does not have any
rights to import goods with Panasonic logo. Such import can be seen as
infringement of the owner’s exclusive rights to the import of Panasonic brand
Unauthorized production of goods. Let’s assume
a famous worldwide company producing furniture has a registered and protected trademark
in Kazakhstan, while it has no furniture production in Kazakhstan. Let’s assume
a local company in Kazakhstan starts manufacturing furniture under the brand name
of the famous worldwide company, even though it does not know that trademark is
duly registered and protected under the Madrid Convention. In this case, it is
obvious that a local company infringes the owner rights of the registered
trademark, i.e. of a famous worldwide company.
brand use in advertising. Kazakhstan
laws forbid using someone else’s trademark in any manifestation. Such usage in
advertising of someone goods or production, and other forms and types of
unauthorized usage are initially considered as illegal. It is necessary to get
a prior consent the brand owner to use the brand in any commercial or
consequences of trademark infringement. Legal remedies-differ
from case to case. In most court cases the judges rule in favor of the legal
owner of the registered trademark. Nonetheless, when the cases are
controversial, the legal outcome depends on each specific court case.
Litigation. The owner or holder
of trademark has a right to sue a trademark infringer in a court. The right
holder can claim: (1) terminate and stop the trademark infringement actions;
(2) destruct the consignment; and (3) compensate for damages and losses. The
compensation is not limited and depends on evaluation evidences in the courts.
Destruction of the unauthorized consignment. Kazakhstan administrative laws implied withdrawal,
destruction or confiscation of goods that infringes someone’s trademark. The
state bodies like justice authorities, anti-corruption service or tax authorities
submit claims on trademark violation to the administrative court. The
administrative court is entitled to either to fine the company with penalty of
200,000 Tenge, a Kazakh national currency, or to confiscate goods without
compensation or reimbursement.
goods into Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan Customs Code protects the rights and
interest of trademark owners and holders. In case commodities are
included in the customs register of trademarks, the customs authorities verify
whether the goods are imported with the consent of trademark owner. The customs authorities are obliged to suspend
the release of goods for ten working days. Later on they inform to the owner of
the trademark about the import of such goods with the use of his trademark.
Whenever a dispute between the right holder and trademark infringer takes
place, the customs authorities will suspend the customs clearance until the
court’s decision. As a result, the goods with the trademark will not be allowed
for customs clearance and later the customs authorities will ask for the
reimbursement of the temporary storage costs.
investigation. The remedy
of trademark can be considered as an unfair competition and anti-monopoly
authority can initiate an anti-monopolistic investigation.
The infringer in this case can be subject to an administrative liability, where
the consequences can take the form of a fine in the amount of approximately 3.1
Criminal prosecution. The law enforcement authorities can initiate
pre-trial criminal investigation on trademark infringement. It is enough for an
infringer to be a subject for criminal prosecution in case when: (1) this
infringer has two administrative charges for the infringement; (2) this
infringer is obliged to recover damages exceeding 2.12 million Tenge. Kazakhstan
criminal law considers the trademark infringement as a criminal misdemeanor,
for which the punishment may be in the form of either public works, or
correctional labor or fine or imprisonment up to 70 days.
In summary, we
observe the Kazakhstan law is effective and enforceable for trademark rights