Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky trademarks surname

Russian opposition protesters wearing masks depicting jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky march downtown St.Petersburg marking his 50th birthday, Russia, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. credit AP

Russian opposition protesters wearing masks depicting jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky march downtown St.Petersburg marking his 50th birthday, Russia, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. credit AP

Lawyers see move as aimed at protecting name from misuse.

Former oil tycoon and renowned Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky has registered his surname as a brand, according to the Kommersant business daily.

Kommersant reports that the Khodorkovsky brand has been trademarked in Russia, the U.S., Switzerland and a series of other countries. The trademark was registered by the British company MBK IP UK Limited, which is tied to Khodorkovsky.

The former head of now-defunct oil company Yukos, Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on charges of fraud and later jailed in a case widely seen as politicized. He was released by Russian President Vladimir Putin in late 2013 and is now resident in Switzerland.

Legal protection will be given to 150 goods and services that may use the Khodorkovsky brand. Among them are political foundations and political lobby institutes, real estate transactions, and advertising and consulting services.

The goods that may use the businessman's surname are clothes, shoes, headwear, stationery, computer games, telephone ringtones, holographic products, gift cards, alarms, sunglasses, items for painting, DVDs and CDs, souvenirs, etc.

The registration and protection of the trademarks will be applicable in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Israel, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the U.S., Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Norway, Switzerland and some other countries.

Khodorkovsky's representatives are not disclosing the objective of registering the brand, but lawyers believe that one of the reasons may be to prevent third parties from using the name. Advertising experts doubt that the new brand has potential commercial value.

MBK IP UK Limited was registered in London on March 15, 2013, three days before filing the applications for the trademark. According to British business sites, the company also owns the trademark Otkrytaya Rossiya (Open Russia), a social organization created on Khodorkovsky's initiative.

The London company is owned by MBK IP Limited (British Virgin Islands), which owns the rights to Khodorkovsky's official English-language site http://www.khodorkovsky.com and has also published his book Tyuremniye Lyudi (Prison People).

Based on material from Kommersant

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