Procurement: August 11, 2005

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The Russians want to take back what they had long ago given away; the design of some of the worlds most popular, and proliferated, weapons. Russia wants the UN to pass rules outlawing unauthorized use of Russian weapons designs. Russia hopes to piggyback this on a UN effort to limit the illegal distribution of assault rifles. It's all about money.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 (the AK is short for Avtomat Kalashnikov, or Kalashnikov Automatic), never got a dime in royalties for his invention, nor did Russia. During the Cold War, Russia (then the Soviet Union) allowed its allies to freely manufacture many Russian weapons, especially the AK-47. Many nations are still doing that, producing over a hundred million AK-47s. Adding insult to injury, some of these nations made small changes to the basic AK-47 design, and patented the new variation. Russias new interest in patents and intellectual property arises from the fact that, as a market economy, Russia wants to make a profit on many still valuable Soviet era weapons designs. Russia also wants to put the hurt on those countries making the cheap knock-offs of Russian weapons. This is bad news for warlords and bandits everywhere. Cheap Russian weapons made difference for many a poor, but vicious young man, who only needed a little additional firepower in order to make his way in the world. Russia wants these thugs to save their pennies and trade up to the, slightly more expensive, real thing. The AK line of assault rifles has been kept alive over the last half century with new models. But the latest AKs cost over a thousand dollars, versus under a hundred bucks for a knock-off AK-47 copy. It's all about competition.

 


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