Coke, McDonald's face fakes, grey imports in Russia

STORY: Western brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have quit Russia.

As for their brands though, that’s not quite so clear cut.

Such firms now face years battling knockoffs, and unauthorised imports.

In most countries that would mean swift legal action.

In Russia, it’s not so certain that authorities support Western firms which chose to leave.

Rospatent - Russia’s intellectual property agency - is receiving a slew of applications involving Western trademarks.

That’s according to analytics firm Clarivate, which tracks the filings.

Normally, they’d be expected to reject anything too similar to existing brands.

But Moscow adopted a decree this spring allowing firms to use patents from countries deemed “unfriendly”.

Russia also now permits so-called “parallel imports” - grey-market shipments of everything from feminine hygiene products to footwear.

Coca-Cola has largely failed to get a judge to back its action against unofficial imports of its drinks.

It also faces competitors, like Fantola, with names very similar to its own brands.

Maker Chernogolovka says it’s already won the legal battle over that, and is doing nothing to mislead consumers.

Other firms, like German confectioner Haribo and U.S. sportswear firm New Balance, want to stop moves to use their brand names, only written in Russia’s Cyrillic alphabet.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s Golden Arches logo could still be seen at some of its former outlets months after the burger chain left.

Experts say all such problems would be relatively easy to tackle in normal times.

Right now though there is little that seems normal.