In this article we will provide analysis of the Russian legal rules on unfair competition. Two questions relating to unfair competition will be explored in this article. Firstly, we will look in the Law of the Russian Federation on the Protection of Competition № 135-FZ of July 26, 2006  to define what kind of business practices are considered as unfair competition.  Secondly, we will focus on some business practices that are considered as unfair competition under Russian law, how the rules are interpreted and applied by the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation, that is the main federal authority on protection of competition in Russian Federation.  It has to be mentioned from the beginning that Russian law does not draw a clear line between protection of competitors and consumer protection. All acts of unfair competition are administrative offences.  A company has a right on a civil action to get compensation for the damages caused by acts of unfair competition after the Federal Antimonopoly Service established that there was an act of unfair competition (administrative offence).
Art. 39 of the Law on Protection of Competition states that the antimonopoly authority initiates and reviews the cases of violation of the antimonopoly legislation, adopts decisions on these cases and issues directions based on these decisions within the frames of its authorities  (the same rules are applied for the acts of unfair competition).

Basis for initiation and review of the cases of violation the antimonopoly legislation (hereinafter - the case) by the antimonopoly authority are:

1) receipt of documents (hereinafter - documents) indicating the signs of violation of the antimonopoly legislation from state bodies or bodies of local self-government;

2) an application from a legal person or a natural person (hereinafter - the application);

3) detection by the antimonopoly authority of the signs of violation of the antimonopoly legislation;

4) mass media reports, natural and legal persons' reports pointing out the signs of violation of the antimonopoly legislation.
Art. Of the Law on Protection of Competition provides definition of the term “unfair competition”. It states that unfair competition is any act of an enterprise (group of entities) that is directed toward obtaining of advantages in conducting business, violates Russian law, business practice, requirements of respectability, reasonableness and equity and causes or is likely to cause damages to another enterprises – competitors -  or damaged or is likely to damage their reputation.   
Some acts of unfair competition are enumerated in art. 14 of the Law on Protection of Competition, that states that unfair competition is not permitted, including:

1) dissemination of false, inaccurate, or distorted information, which can inflict losses on economic entity or cause damage to its business reputation;

2) misrepresentation concerning the nature, method, and place of manufacture, consumer characteristics, quality and quantity of а commodity or concerning its producers;

3) incorrect comparison by an economic entity of the products manufactured or sold by it with the products manufactured or sold by other economic entities;

4) sale, exchange or other way of input of a commodity into circulation if there was illegal use of the results of intellectual activity and equalized to them means of individualization of a legal person, means of individualization of production, works, services;

5) illegal receipt, use, and disclosure of information constituting commercial, official or other protected by law secret.

According to art. 14 part 2 of the Law on Protection of Competition, unfair competition connected with acquisition and use of exclusive rights for the means of individualization of a legal person, means of individualization of production, works, services is not permitted.
The art. 14 of the Law on Protection of Competition states further that decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Authority concerning violation of the provisions of part 2 of the present article concerning acquisition and use of exclusive rights to a trademark is sent by an interested party to the federal executive authority for intellectual property for the invalidation of the legal protection granted to this trademark.
The art. 14 does not directly name the tort of imitation in cases when it does not involve intellectual property rights (design, trade marks, copyright, patents). However, the specific categories of competitive torts are enumerated in a non-exclusive manner in art. 14.  Some acts of imitation are considered by the Federal Antimonopoly service as acts of unfair competition under art. 14 part 1 par. 2 (misrepresentation concerning the nature, method, and place of manufacture, consumer characteristics, quality and quantity of а commodity or concerning its producers).
The following case is an illustration of the implementation of art. 14 of the Law on Protection of Competition. “TPAO Udacha”  Co. Ltd., that specializes in distribution of tea from Sri Lanka in Russian Federation, has distributed the tea under the name “Dolche Vita” in a bright packaging. The tea “Dolche Vita” is a product of two other companies  -«JAFFERJEE BROTHERS» and «EXPOLANKA TEAS (PVT) LIMITED. “TPAO Udacha” got to know that other company – “BrandTea” Co. Ltd. - had distributed tea under the name “Dolche Vita” in a packaging that was similar to the packaging of Udacha’s Dolche Vita tea. There were no registered trade mark or design rights on this packaging by  “TPAO Udacha”.  
According to the results of the sociological study that was conducted on behalf of the Federal Antimonopoly Agency, 55 % of respondents believed that the boxes of both distributers were similar, 50 % of respondents believed that the two boxes of tea derived from the same producer.  The Federal Antimonopoly Agency came to the conclusion that the act of the “BrandTea” violated art 14 part 1 par. 2 of the Law on Protection of Competition.
As can be seen from this case there is no clear and defined concept of the act of unfair competition in Russian law and practice. In the given case the Federal Antimonopoly Agency did not establish whether the packaging had individual features that distinguished it from packaging of other tea producers or whether the product had the competitive individuality. The consumers have not been asked whether they could identify the producer/distributer of the tea by the given packaging. Unfair competition is an act of an enterprise that is directed toward obtaining of advantages in conducting business and causes or is likely to cause damages to another enterprise.  Does a company obtain any advantage when it uses a packaging that 50 % of consumers consider similar to a packaging of another not well known distributor of tea?  Are consumers really deceived by such packaging? A consumer wants to get a package of tea from Sri Lanka and in both cases the consumer gets a package of tea from Shri Lanka. Another case would if a consumer (average and well-informed) would want a package of tea distributed exactly by TRAO Udacha.


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