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Between 2005 and 2017 “Dilya Publishing” society have entered into several assignment and license contracts with Mr.Neumyvakyn Ivan, a naturalist writer, obtaining exclusive rights to his copyrighted works of literature. However, in 2018 the society learned that shortly before his death in April 2018 Mr. Neumyvakyn assigned a batch of his works to another firm (Neumyvakyn’s Health Center) by concluding a notarized agreement. As these works included the ones already assigned to the Dilya Publishing, the society filed a lawsuit against the assignee and the notary public, demanding a nullification of the contract in question.

In September 2019 the Moscow city commercial court dismissed the lawsuit as having been filed by a non-interested person, which was not a party to the notarized contract and whose rights and interests were not infringed by this contract. The court has also found no grounds for classifying the transaction as inherently void.

The claimant then filed a plea with the 9th court of appeals, which re-tried the case in December 2019 and reversed the initial decision. A panel of appeal judges has pointed out, that all assignment contracts between the late author and the publisher were still valid and not challenged in any way; hence there could be no subsequent assignment of rights, which the author had already disposed of. The court of appeals also noted that the claimant indeed had a legal interest in defense of exclusive rights owned and is entitled to a lawsuit against any contract that is a threat thereof. As the notarized agreement in question did infringe the claimant’s rights, the court of appeals has ruled in society’s favor, nullifying the notarized assignment.

A cassation plea was filed by the defendant with the IP Court, which tried the case in March 2020, but found no grounds behind its arguments and dismissed the plea. The case may be still reviewed by the Supreme Court of Russia (Judicial Chamber on Economic Disputes) and a corresponding plea has been already filed by the defendant.

For more details, see https://kad.arbitr.ru/Card/af2c344f-80ea-479e-9c9c-0420ca33e745.