Olek­siy Stol­yarenko: Ex­gov­ern­ment worker now ad­vises IT clients on Ukrainian law

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - Contents - By Denys Kras­nikov kras­nikov@kyiv­post.com

In the era of com­pact discs and lo­cal in­ter­net net­works some 10 years ago, Olek­siy Stol­yarenko was one of the orig­i­na­tors of Ukrainian copy­right and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy law.

To­day Stol­yarenko is a se­nior as­so­ciate at the Ukrainian branch of in­ter­na­tional law firm Baker Mcken­zie, ad­vis­ing the most fa­mous IT brands on how to op­er­ate legally on the Ukrainian mar­ket.

“It's a bless­ing,” Stol­yarenko says, de­scrib­ing his job. He says most fa­mous world brands, in­clud­ing top tech com­pa­nies, part­ner with Baker Mcken­zie. “It's truly a mind-blow­ing (ex­pe­ri­ence) when com­pa­nies like th­ese come to you for a piece of ad­vice,” Stol­yarenko says.

Tech com­pa­nies come for help in pro­tect­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, in­clud­ing tech­nol­ogy-re­lated trans­ac­tions and the li­cens­ing of soft­ware.

Some com­pa­nies ask about lan­guage ad­just­ments of their prod­uct to the lo­cal mar­ket, trade­marks and copy­rights. Oth­ers seek le­gal help when ac­quir­ing other par­tic­u­lar tech prod­ucts or en­tire star­tups.

“I pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about all th­ese things,” Stol­yarenko says.

The lawyer has been spe­cial­iz­ing in the area for nine years. In 2015, he was awarded Best Lawyer in In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty by Ukrainian le­gal news­pa­per Yuridichna Gazeta. He was listed as a no­table prac­ti­tioner in in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in 2015 and 2016 in the an­nual re­port by the Ukrainian Jour­nal of Busi­ness Law. Le­gal 500 also honored him in 2017.

Stol­yarenko stud­ied in Na­tional Yaroslav the Wise Law Academy of Ukraine and then in Louisiana State Univer­sity in the United States. After­ward, Stol­yarenko went to work for the gov­ern­ment as a se­nior spe­cial­ist of copy­right and re­lated rights. Stol­yarenko says peo­ple didn’t know much about the is­sues at the time. At the Depart­ment of In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty, Stol­yarenko worked on is­sues around reg­is­ter­ing and li­cens­ing own­er­ship

rights on the in­ter­net, and ran in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns on th­ese top­ics. “The civil ser­vice job gave me a good start,” he re­calls. “I met in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and many of them re­mained my friends.”

But the gov­ern­ment paid badly, and so he soon joined Baker Mcken­zie. He says won't be go­ing back to work­ing for the gov­ern­ment. “I thought about re­turn­ing, but the level of re­mu­ner­a­tion is not just low — there’s sim­ply no salary there,” he says. Apart from that, Stol­yarenko said he was sure it would be very dif­fi­cult to change the gov­ern­ment in Ukraine from within.

“Those who have tried to change some­thing have made a lot of en­e­mies,” he says. “All the changes have to be co­or­di­nated. So far, the sys­tem has suc­cess­fully re­pelled those who have tried to bring about change.”

Steer­ing away from con­tro­versy

For now, Stol­yarenko has his work cut out for him work­ing with the copy­right-based in­dus­tries, which he says have a great in­flu­ence on the econ­omy of Ukraine.

The IT sphere (which is mostly based on copy­righted soft­ware) alone ac­counts for 3 per­cent of Ukraine's an­nual eco­nomic out­put, ac­cord­ing to a re­port called "Ukraine: The Rise of a Tech­nol­ogy Na­tion" by Ukraine Dig­i­tal News. Still, Ukrainian IT law hasn’t man­aged to catch up, Stol­yarenko said. “There are still some prob­lems with the logic of Ukrainian IT law,” he said. “One doc­u­ment may say, ‘find fur­ther di­rec­tions in a spe­cific de­cree.’ All right, but there’s no such de­cree. It may not have been writ­ten yet.”

To deal with this, Stol­yarenko sim­ply tries to steer his clients away from con­tro­ver­sies. “You re­ally have to weigh your risks when you en­ter a new mar­ket. Ukraine isn’t a su­per im­por­tant mar­ket and risks here are very dif­fi­cult to mea­sure.”

On the other hand, Stol­yarenko says, such low reg­u­la­tion can ben­e­fit tech com­pa­nies. A Ukrainian en­tre­pre­neur pays just 5 per­cent in taxes.

“This is a real ben­e­fit.”

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