In 1991, due to the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Ukraine regained its independence and a new era for the Ukrainian economy began. Many business opportunities arise for entrepreneurs who then begin to emerge.
New products and services have proliferated on the market, as has the need to create legal mechanisms guaranteeing the protection of the rights of trademark owners. For this purpose, the Ukrainian Institute of Industrial Property (UKRPatent) was established in 2000.
Interestingly, it was also from this date that economic indicators in Ukraine began to register noticeable increases. In 2000, the real gross domestic product of Ukraine amounted to 138.1 billion UAH (4.68 billion dollars), in 2003 – 256.4 billion UAH, in 2004 – 310.1 billion UAH and in 2013 it reached 1 trillion UAH.
However, this trend was interrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, which led to the occupation of certain territories in Donbass and the annexation of Crimea. In that year, real GDP fell to UAH 1,370 billion, but the following year it resumed growth, amounting to UAH 1,430 billion.
In 2022, Ukraine again suffers a military attack from its largest neighbor to such an extent that the economy of this European state suffers a severe blow.
The economic jolts are directly reflected in the number of trademark applications British patent. This article studies the status of trademarks related to Ukraine in the periods covering the beginning of these armed conflicts between Russia and Ukraine.
Drop in brands
The first dispute erupted on February 20, 2014. The UKRPatent reported at the time that 2,002 trademark applications had been received during that month. In March of the same year, more than 2,645 trademark applications were filed. As can be seen, the effects of the conflict were not felt in relation to the total number of trademark filings.
The invasion led by Russian troops on February 24, 2022 presents a different scenario. During the same month, the number of requests (2,809) was still at the average level recorded in recent years. In March, however, there was an extreme drop, which resulted in 1,241 trademark applications.
However, Intellectual Property Bulletins are still published regularly and applications for registration are requested in a wide variety of classes, both by domestic and foreign owners.
Since February 24, we have seen an increase in trademark applications from Ukraine-based applicants in other countries compared to the same period in 2021. The most searched jurisdiction is the United States, with which 17 of the 38 marks were applied for. abroad are directed. About 22% of these marks cover beverages in class 32.
The beverage sector, and in particular beer, has proven to be particularly vulnerable in this conflict. The most striking example is that of a popular local beer brand, Chernigivske, whose owner, the world’s largest beer producer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has filed several trademark applications not only in the United States but also in Mexico and Argentina. The first two countries are among the highest consumers of beer per capita in the world.
The brand’s production facilities are based in the city of Chernihiv. This city north of Kyiv was badly devastated at the start of the war. Access to water, electricity and gas, crucial for the production of the product, as well as access to logistics, have been cut off.
Additionally, the imposition of a temporary ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages by the Ukrainian authorities interrupted the sale of beer that was still in stock in various parts of the country.
‘Starlink’: a meaningful brand
There is another brand that caught our attention. This is SpaceX’s “Starlink”, filed in Ukraine by Elon Mask’s Space Exploration Technologies and released on April 16, 2022.
We find this publication loaded with symbolism, since Ukraine’s entry into advanced technology, covered by the brand mentioned above, is an unprecedented turning point in this battle.
Currently, the lack of human resources is singled out by experts as the main obstacle to the country’s economic activity. Many men and women of working age have been mobilized or have left the country for security reasons, not to mention the large migratory flow within Ukraine itself.
Companies that cannot cope with the displacement of the population suffer from a lack of manpower. According to a study by the Advanter group, about 48% of small and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine are in this situation.
However, the IT sector has proven particularly immune to missile warfare. In January 2021, the share of IT was 37% of exports of all services in Ukraine. Last year, Ukraine’s IT services exports grew by 36% to $6.8 billion. Currently, Ukraine is relying on the digital industry to respond to the immense economic challenges that are accumulating as the conflict persists.
Taking advantage of the inevitable reduction in the presence of Russian IT engineers in the market, Ukrainian specialists have a chance to develop even faster in the industry. Exporting digital goods is fast, convenient, and has far fewer risks associated with war than exporting physical goods or raw materials.
Moreover, labor mobility is incomparably greater. The owners of Ukraine’s top IT brands such as SoftServe, Intellias and Sigma Software, among others, have evacuated many employees and their families to safer locations abroad.
On the one hand, this is a forced expansion, but on the other hand, this measure will certainly have positive effects on the stability of production and the further development resulting from it.
It should be noted that new technologies have also paved the way for other industries, such as the fashion industry.
During this war, Vogue Italy showed its support for Ukrainian fashion designers by presenting their brands and dedicating articles to the Ukrainian cause. Naturally, we received this information from digital sources.
Many Ukrainian fashion bloggers and fashion influencers, who own brands in Ukraine and/or abroad, have turned their social networks into a battleground. Their smartphones are their loudspeakers to spread information about Ukrainian brands and appeal for help and support to their colleagues and followers around the world. And these calls are heard and answered.
A wave of solidarity painted the world in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. A country whose existence is disputed on the battlefield has gained enormous visibility and has become a major trend around the world.
The demand for products alluding to Ukraine and its culture, especially clothing items and accessories, is increasing. Famous fashion houses have taken inspiration from Ukraine for their latest designs.
Will this be a lasting trend? Time will tell us. Meanwhile, we are watching the doors of the Western world open to Ukrainian brands.
Measures that, on the face of it, are taken with the sole aim of ensuring the survival of Ukrainian businesses, could bring great dividends in the future. The desperation forcing national products and services to cross borders has apparently worked as a catalyst for the expansion of Ukrainian brands into new markets.
This may be an opportunity for brands to conquer new consumers and establish themselves in these markets for decades to come. If that happens, rebuilding the economy will be a much easier task when peace reigns again in Ukraine.
As can be seen, war stifles the economic activity of a country, while a major war brings it to a complete halt. However, intellectual property in general, and brands in particular, have shown extraordinary flexibility and adaptability even in the worst of times.
These days, Ukrainians are defending not only their national dignity, but also the inclusion of their quality brands. It only remains for us to support them in this hard fight, hoping that “life will prevail over death, and light will prevail over darkness” (Volodymyr Zelenskiy).
This is a joint edition articleoriginally published in the World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR).