Saturday, October 24, 2009

China and Russia to reach a deal on Kalashnikov rifle copyright

Klimovsk: After mercilessly ripping off the design of every Russian defence product that they have laid their hands on, and even producing and exporting then without so much as a thank you, the Chinese may finally accord copyright protection to one product–the ubiquitous Kalashnikov rifle. The protection may come too late in the day for it to be if any use to the Russians and the Kalashnikov brand name though.

Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said Thursday it was working to reach an agreement with China on copyright protection of Kalashnikov assault rifles.

"We have received China's national patent for Kalashnikov products. The documents have been handed to the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation to prepare and conclude an intergovernmental agreement in the field," Anatoly Isaikin, the head of Rosoboronexport told journalists.

Isaikin said he expected the process of reaching a deal with China to be lengthy, but hoped

it would be concluded soon.

In this respect he noted the huge number of unlicensed Kalashnikov rifles produced all over the world. "There are about 100 million Kalashnikov assault rifles worldwide, of which half are counterfeit, i.e. produced without licenses, patents and intergovernmental agreements," he said.

Isaikin said over 15 countries, including Bulgaria, Romania, Egypt and China, produce the rifles either on expired licenses or without them. "Even America produces the assault rifles, even though the country has never received a license for their manufacture," he said.

According to Isaikin, there were at least 30 organizations illegally producing and selling the weapons.

Russia has every reason to push for copyright protection of this classic weapon for just this September an arbitration court in the country accepted a bankruptcy suit against the factory which produces the famed assault rifles.

A court in the Urals republic of Udmurtia said on its website that the suit had been filed by a previously unknown company named Gremikha. It did not specify the connection between the plaintiff and Izhmash, the owner of the Kalashnikov plant.

The court said a hearing on the suit would be held on 7 October.

Though bankruptcy would help Izhmash deal with its debt burden, observers warned that a new wave of unemployment would sweep the region.

The Izhmash-owned Molot factory, which produces the legendary assault rifles, has already frozen operations due to a lack of orders from the state, Russian media reported.

The best-known Kalashnikov rifle is the 1947 model known as the AK-47, which is the most widely produced used assault rifle in the world, and is used by both regular armies and militant groups.

The creator of the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov, is 89 years old and lives in Izhevsk.

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