Russia has enacted a law allowing for the piracy of patented chip designs, software, and other intellectual property from any of Vladimir Putin’s sanctioned countries. According to the Washington Post, Russian enterprises can replicate any intellectual property from corporations on the sanctioned list and profit without fear of legal penalties. Furthermore, these businesses will be unable to seek compensation if their intellectual property is breached or used illegally.
Sanctions on unfriendly nations
The sanction list consists of countries such as Australia, Iceland, Monaco, Norway, Japan, Korea, Ukraine, EU member states, the US, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and Switzerland. The action removes all safeguards for patent holders who are registered in unfriendly countries, do business with them, or are citizens of those countries. This comes after a number of international companies decided to leave the country following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Such steps would “mitigate the impact on the market of supply chain brakes as well as shortages of goods and services that have occurred due to new sanctions imposed by western countries” according to a TASS report.
Russia has also suggested the prospect of relaxing limitations on specific trademarks on products whose supply to Russia has been restricted. As a result, Russia might have its own McDonald’s, complete with the same logo and branding.
Impact of Russia’s Decree
In an interview with the Washington Post, Josh Gerben, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington, said that such a decree would affect Western investment in Russia far beyond any de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and that companies that were already concerned about risks in Russian business would have even more reason to be concerned.
Patent infringement can be dangerous for western businesses and innovators, as Russian companies can now steal ideas and utilize protected content without fear of legal repercussions. Patent law’s enabling disclosure requirement compels patent holders to describe their inventions in sufficient detail for someone versed in the art to build and use them. This effectively means that Russian businesses can use publicly accessible patent databases to practice patents in order to increase their lagging technological production.
Although no legislation governing free piracy of copyrighted works or trademark infringement has yet been enacted. It is only a matter of time until it occurs. In fact officials from Russia’s Military of Economic Development urged to relax the trademark regulation. Legalizing copyright piracy and trademark infringement allows Russia to continue operating and profiting from western firms and services that have halted operations in Russia as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. As the proposed remedies would completely offset the current supply chain breaks, this would result in a waste of western company efforts. Exploiting the American brand names is inherently undemocratic and antithetical to American ideals.
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