Murphy's Law: Russian Weapons Discover Intellectual Property

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March 27, 2007: For nearly a century, Russia cared little about respecting intellectual property (patents, trademarks and copyright) rights. But now Russia has seen the error of its ways. Russia is cracking down on countries (especially in Eastern Europe) where manufacturers, using licenses from the Soviet days, continue manufacturing, and modifying, Russian weapons. The Soviet Union was pretty liberal in issuing manufacturing licenses it allies. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, those licenses didn't seem to be worth much. The end of the Cold War put huge amounts of Soviet era weaponry on the market. There was certainly no money in producing more of the stuff. But after a decade or so of living off that Cold War surplus, many nations want more, or want upgrades. This is becoming big business. A lot of those Soviet era weapons are still viable, even more so with upgrades.

Technically, the Russian companies that originally designed the weapons, and issued the manufacturing licenses, have the right to recall or revise those licenses. Russian companies have been getting the brush-off from the foreign manufacturers holding these licenses. But now the Russian government has agreed to intervene. This makes it a serious matter, with diplomats, as well as many more lawyers, moving in to set things right. The foreign companies, particularly those in Eastern Europe, are not happy about all this. But, then, Russia isn't too happy with the way Eastern Europe has rushed to join NATO and the European Union. There is apparently a connection there.

 


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