Beijing’s intellectual property-rights (IPR) practices, including patent infringement and the theft of proprietary technology and software, have been targeted by US President Donald Trump, who is using that issue to drive his trade war against China. And not just China. The United States is involved in efforts to force the world to respect IPR. But justice begins at home.
It was the United States that started a sanctions war with Russia in an attempt to “punish” it for Ukraine, US election meddling, and other invented “wrongdoings.” Now it needs Russian weapons for its military, but cannot buy them legally as a result of its own policy. US foreign-military advisers, as well as Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel involved in clandestine operations, need the weapons for specific missions, and they want them promptly and in the quantities they need. How does the US solve this problem? It decides to manufacture these weapons domestically without any permission, agreements, licenses, or anything. It needs nothing of the sort. It believes that intellectual property (IP) rights should be respected everywhere in the world but the United States — the country that gets what it wants while conveniently forgetting all the international rules and norms. This is a prime example of the egregious violation of Russia’s IPR by the United States.
As the National Interest put it, “So US Special Forces Command, which oversees America’s various commando units, has an idea: instead of buying Russian weapons, why not build their own? That’s why USSOCOM is asking US companies to come up with a plan to manufacture Russian and other foreign weapons.” The goal is to “develop an innovative domestic capability to produce fully functioning facsimiles of foreign-made weapons that are equal to or better than what is currently being produced internationally,” according to the USSOCOM Small Business Innovation Research proposal.
Indeed, the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has hired contractors to build US-made analogs to Russia weapons: the 7.62x54mm PKM light machine gun and the 12.7x108mm NSV “Utes” heavy machine gun. Defense contractors in US-friendly countries, such as Ukraine and East European nations that once belonged to the Warsaw Treaty Organization, have a different reason for their inability to provide alternative sources. Producing the weapons in the US is the best way to solve all the problems related to logistics and supply chains. It guarantees the homogeneity of the parts. Naturally there is no talk of paying licensing fees or royalties to Rostec, the Russian State Corporation to Facilitate the Development, Production, and Export of Advanced Technological Industrial Products. And if the production goes well, why not sell the US-manufactured Russian weapons abroad, all the while lecturing other countries on the importance of respecting copyrights? Meaning American copyrights.
The Drive cited SOCOM’s 2017 contracting announcement, which stated, “Foreign made weapons lack interchangeability and standardization which hinders field and depot level part replacement.” It further explains that “Developing a domestic production capability for foreign like weapons addresses these issues while being cost effective as well as strengthens the nations [sic] military-industrial complex, ensures a reliable and secure supply chain, and reduces acquisition lead times.”
One way to counter Russia’s legal claims and accusations of intellectual-property theft is to say that these guns only “resemble” PKMs and NSVs, but are not direct copies thereof! This prompts the question — why can’t Chinese producers or those accused by the US of IP theft in other countries do the same? This isn’t stealing — there are just a few occasional similarities, but it’s all homemade and there is nothing to worry about. Will the US accept such “explanations”?
There are more examples. Kalashnikov USA, a Florida warehouse, is producing “Made in America” AK- 47 Kalashnikov automatic rifles. SOCOM also is seeking American companies to sign contracts to produce AK-47s and ammunition. Russian medium and heavy machine guns, as well as 14.5mm aircraft guns, are included in the this solicitation. Naturally, the Americans may want to produce the magnificent Kalashnikov AK-308 automatic rifle that was showcased at the Russian Army-2018 exhibition that took place in August.
Indeed, the US-backed groups in Syria would attract less attention if they carried Russian, not American, arms. A lot of fighters in conflict-ridden countries are familiar with Russian weapons. It’ll be much harder to see exactly who is behind them if they’re carrying Russian weapons.
While the US imposes sanctions on China for legally buying Russian weapons, it is illegally producing them and its companies are encouraged to continue, with no threat of sanctions from the government.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton was very kind to issue a warning on Oct. 31 at an Alexander Hamilton Society event that China is most likely stealing Russian intellectual property in order to sell copycat weapons systems for a lower price at some point in the future. Thank you for sharing this valuable information, Mr. Bolton! Just one little question to clarify, what is the US doing building Russian weapons illegally? We get it, Mr. Bolton, this is just another example of the pot calling the kettle black.
So, the United States is blatantly violating Russian intellectual property rights. It could have done everything officially and bought a license, for instance, but it has not. This kind of behavior will inevitably tarnish the US reputation worldwide. But Washington is making an effort to get its hands on the best. This unseemly practice confirms the fact that Russia is the global leader in the production of weapons of unparalleled quality that are in high demand worldwide, including in the United States. This is the best advertisement for the Russian defense industry anyone could dream of.