Russia responds to imposed sanctions by legalizing intellectual property theft against all countries in the European Union, and 23 others

Aviva Snitman is an IP Innovation Clinic Fellow and a 2L JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. This blog was prepared as a requirement for the Directed Reading: IP Innovation Program Course, taught by Prof. Pina D’Agostino.

On March 5, Russia compiled a list of enemy countries, comprised of the countries who are enforcing sanctions against Russia. On Monday, March 7, Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin signed a motion stating that payment to patent holders from these counties will be 0%. This means that, in Russia, it is legal for individuals to make use of or reproduce intellectual property originating from any of their enemy states.

Many countries, including the United States and Canada are refusing to do business with Russia in attempt to discourage their invasion of Ukraine. Russia first responded to these sanctions by declaring that they would pay back their debts to these countries only in rubles, which are currently valued at 0.0072 US dollars. Now, Russia attempts to combat sanctions by promoting intellectual property theft. The protection of intellectual property is important because it provides inventors with a level of control over how their inventions will be used. Russia knows that these rights are important to inventors and thinks by removing them they can pressure these states into lifting sanctions.

Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine has caused millions of Ukrainians to leave their homes, in search of refuge. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, claims Ukraine is a threat to Russia’s peace and security, and claims that it is a country that promotes bullying, genocide and Nazification. Putin’s claims are unfounded. Ukraine is a democratic state led by a Jewish president. This points to a larger issue of dictatorships and total control being in the hands of one person. Putin sees Ukraine’s democratic nature as a threat to his authoritarian control. Putin has served three terms as president. Under his leadership, Russia has experienced suppression of free speech in the media, corrupt election processes and prison sentencing for contrarian politicians and leaders.

There is no lack of consensus among the general population that these atrocious acts by the Russian government are unethical. However, because all states are sovereign entities, there is no authority that can force Russia to evacuate Ukraine. The United States is a very strong political and financial power. With them and many other states refusing to engage in business with Russia, the consequences for Russia’s economy could be dire. And without money, Russia will not have money to fund their war. The best response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be to follow the actions of these countries that are imposing sanctions against Russia, and bankrupt Russia. No money means no power, and then Russia’s efforts to combat these sanctions will be of no effect because the country will have no power.

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