Treasury Department Issues General License Authorizing Certain Transactions Related to Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights

By Donald Zuhn —

On March 2, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury issued General License No. 13, which authorized “US persons . . . to pay taxes, fees, or import duties, and purchase or receive permits, licenses, registrations, or certifications” for a limited time when such activities relate to transactions involving the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (“Bank of Russia”) and to the extent that such activities would otherwise be prohibited by Directive 4 under Executive Order (EO) 14024)see “Treasury Department Authorizes Transactions Involving Bank of Russia until June 24, 2022”). According to General License No. 13, transactions that “are ordinarily incident and necessary to such persons’ day-to-day operations in the Russian Federation” were authorized “through 12:01 am eastern daylight time, June 24, 2022.”

Directive 4 of the OFAC, which was issued on February 2, 2022, indicates that “the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control has determined, in consultation with the Department of State, that the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation are political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities of the Government of the Russian Federation.” As a result, the Directive states that:

[T]The following activities by a United States person are prohibited, except to the extent provided by law, or unless licensed or otherwise authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control:

any transaction involving the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, including any transfer of assets to such entities or any foreign exchange transaction for or on behalf of such entities .

The Directive also prohibits the following:

(1) any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions of this Directive; and (2) any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions of this Directive.

In a USPTO Alert email distributed to stakeholders and posted on the Office’s website last week, the US Patent and Trademark Office noted that the OFAC has published General License No. 31, which the USPTO indicated “authorizes certain intellectual property-related transactions in Russia, including the filing and prosecution of any application to obtain a patent, trademark, or copyright, as well as renewal and maintenance fees.” The Office noted also that any questions regarding General License No. 31 should be directed to the OFAC at OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov.

General License No. 31 states that the following transactions related to the protection of intellectual property in the United States or the Russian Federation — that would otherwise be prohibited under the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 587 — are authorized (except as provided in part (b) of the General License):

(1) The filing and prosecution of any application to obtain a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection;

(2) The receipt of a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection;

(3) The renewal or maintenance of a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection; and

(4) The filing and prosecution of any opposition or infringement proceeding with respect to a patent, trademark, copyright, or other form of intellectual property protection, or the entrance of a defense to any such proceeding.

Part (b) of General License No. 31 do not authorize:

(1) The opening or maintaining of a correspondent account or payable-through account for or on behalf of foreign financial institutions determined to be subject to the prohibitions of Directive 2 under Executive Order (EO) 14024, Prohibitions Related to Correspondent or Payable-Through Accounts and Processing of Transactions Involving Certain Foreign Financial Institutions;

(ii) any debit to an account on the books of a US financial institution of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation; or

(3) Any transactions prohibited by EO 14066 or EO 14068.

According to the Treasury Department’s Directive 2 under Executive Order (EO) 14024, the prohibitions of that Directive “apply only with respect to a US financial institution’s opening or maintaining of a correspondent account or payable-through account for or on behalf of, or processing of a transaction involving, a foreign financial institution.” A copy of Executive Order 14066, which is entitled “Prohibiting Certain Imports and New Investments With Respect to Continued Russian Federation Efforts To Undermine the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Ukraine,” can be found here. A copy of Executive Order 14068, which is entitled “Prohibiting Certain Imports, Exports, and New Investment With Respect to Continued Russian Federation Aggression,” can be found here.

In its Daily News email last Friday, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) noted that General License No. 31 “clarifies previously issued General License No. 13, which left unresolved whether such payments constitute legal registration licenses for ‘payments, certifications, and permits to conduct day-to-day operations’ or were prohibited by Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations.”

For additional information regarding this and other related topics, please see:

• “Treasury Department Authorizes Transactions Involving Bank of Russia Until June 24, 2022,” April 10, 2022
• “USPTO News Briefs,” April 4, 2022
• “USPTO Provides Advice Regarding Dealings with Rospatent,” March 22, 2022
• “Georgian and Estonian Patent Offices Join Other IP Offices in Expressing Support for Ukraine,” March 13, 2022
• “Several Law Firms Close Russian Offices,” March 13, 2022
• “Russia Permits Uncompensated Use of Certain Patents without Patentee Consent,” March 11, 2022
• “Lithuanian Patent Office and EUIPO Join Other Patent Offices in Expressing Support for Ukraine,” March 10, 2022
• “USPTO Terminates PPH with Rospatent and Terminates Engagement with NCIP,” March 10, 2022
• “Life Sciences Business Leaders Call for Immediate and Complete Economic Disengagement from Russia,” March 9, 2022
• “PRH Joins Other Patent Offices in Expressing Support for Ukraine,” March 9, 2022
• “USPTO Terminates Engagement with Rospatent and EAPO,” March 7, 2022
• “Ukrpatent Continues Normal Operations Room for Russian Aggression,” March 6, 2022

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