The Russian Federation (“Russia”) invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 in an unprovoked act of warfare not seen in Europe since World War II. As a result of this attack, thousands of innocent Ukrainian citizens have now been murdered or displaced by means of Russian planes, bombs, missiles, tanks, and soldiers. Russia also invaded the Ukrainian territories of Crimea and the eastern parts of the country, known as Donetsk.
These unprovoked acts of aggression by one country against another cannot be allowed to go unrecognized or unpunished in the world in which most of us would like to live. The institutions that have been built since the end of World War II, and even before then, have contributed to the lasting peace and relative prosperity that has existed for the last 75-80 years on our planet. The institutions built up by our forebears, and preserved to this day by ourselves, serve to help all of us prosper. When one nation attacks another for the purpose of acquiring land, destroying infrastructure, and killing civilians, the institutions we have built are not simply diminished; they are destroyed.
One of these institutions is the international recognition and protection of intellectual property (IP) rights. IP rights are property rights. Although limited in scope, and as to how long they may inure to the benefit of their owners, IP rights may be as valuable, and in various cases are of more value, than ownership of such items as luxury yachts or choice real estate.
As such, IP rights should not be exempt from confiscation if they are owned by Russian entities.
In response to Russia’s deadly and criminal assault on Ukraine, democratic states have sought to pressure President Vladimir Putin in part by confiscation of the property—the enormous yachts, expensive apartments, and fabulous mansions—of Russian entities that act at his behest. In keeping with this policy, why not also take from them their IP rights? Mechanisms for such confiscation exist, ranging from compulsory licensing to outright expropriation. Why not resort to this effective means of penalizing those engaging in Russia’s horrifying attacks on Ukraine’s towns, its cities, and their citizens?
Photo Credit: https://www.aljazeera.com/