Coca-Cola is not returning to the Russian market

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The Coca-Cola Company applied to the Russian Patent Service to reregister: Coca-ColaFantaSprite, and some other of its trademarks, which was incorrectly interpreted by some media as the company’s official return to the Russian market. Unofficially these beverages are already present in the market, though through the grey economy, as they are imported from different countries. Every company is protecting its intellectual property, and that protection has a deadline that needs to be extended. Russian intellectual property rights experts, who the Agency RIA Novosti consulted, confirmed that this case involved protecting intellectual property rights, which could facilitate Coca-Cola’s future return to the Russian market. However, they did not indicate that any such action is currently underway



post on the social network Facebook shared the following text: 

The most famous American brand is returning to the Russian market! 

This disinformation can also be found in multiple places: here, here, and here, which is followed by this sensational announcement:

THE GIANT DECIDEDIt is going back to Russia!

The fact is incorrect and based on a confusing article in the Russian newspaper Vedomosti, reporting the information from Interfax and other media, about the fact that the company Coca-Cola had applied to the Russian Federal Intellectual Property Office Rospatent to register: Coca-ColaFanta, Sprite and other trademarks, which means this will facilitate Coca-Cola’s future return to the Russian market. Theoretically, they can return once they are orderly registered, but no such announcement has been made by Coca-Cola. That might happen in the distant future, once the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which led Coca-Cola to withdraw from the Russian market in the first place two years ago, comes to an endVedomosti requested an explanation of the reregistration from the representative of Coca-Cola for Russia, but, as the newspaper stated they have not received a reply. 

There is no declaration about Coca-Cola officially returning to the Russian market. When we say “return,” we mean an official return, as Coca-Cola beverages are still present in the Russian market today, but without official authorization – they are imported from Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China, Vietnam, and, allegedly, even from some Western countries with semi-criminal schemes. This was made possible with the so-called parallel imports (imports of goods without the permission of the trademark owner) introduced by the Russian authorities. 

The possibility of Coca-Cola returning to the Russian market upset many people in Ukraine. Subsequently, the Ukrainian newspaper Ekonomicna Pravda contacted the Ukrainian company representative who explained that the company requested re-registration of its trademarks in Russia to preserve its intellectual property and make sure that they were not abused (i.e., copied unauthorized, etc.), but added that the company’s operation in Russia will continue without disruption. Similar statements from Coca-Cola were reported by the News Agency Reuters, again, without mentioning any return to the Russian market. 

Every company is protecting its intellectual property rights, and that protection has an expiry date and must be extended, so this re-registration does not mean Coca-Cola returning to Russia, although theoretically, it can serve that purpose. 

As elaborated by Еkonomicna Pravda, the registration of trademarks in Russia can be annulled if they are not used within its territory for three years. Since Coca-Cola withdrew its trademarks from the Russian market in 2022, their registration could expire in 2025. Therefore, the company had to act promptly to protect and avoid losing its rights in the Russian market.

This was confirmed by Russian experts on intellectual property rights consulted by the Agency RIA Novosti. They reiterated that the protection of intellectual property rights can serve as means for Coca-Cola’s return on the Russian market in the future, but did not mention that such an action was ongoing at the moment. 

Bearing in mind the above-noted facts, the post fact-checked is assessed as untrue.