The current news coverage that is focusing on the possibility of a full-fledged war between Ukraine and Russia has reminded me of a news item related to the Ukrainian-Russian tension and patents that I came across a few years ago.
The news item is as follows:
In this one, Russia’s Sputnik news agency mocks the tank:
The patent on the tank is UA111330U . When I saw this news and had a look at the patent document, I was surprised by the publication of an invention that a priori should be of interest to the national defence and in a state that since 2014 has been in a situation of war, albeit a low-intensity one.
Virtually all states have provisions in their patent laws establishing that the prosecution of a patent application that concerns an invention that is of interest to the national defence will be done confidentially. In other words, the patent application will be subject to the treatment of classified information (more on the subject can be found in an article on page 23 of issue 73 of the Marchamos Magazine). Both the Ukrainian and Russian patent laws provide for this possibility. Surprisingly, this Ukrainian patent, given the time elapsed between the filing date and the publication date, was not declared to be of interest to the national defence.
However, there is a classification symbol dedicated to armoured vehicles or tanks in the international patent classification IPC, namely F41H7/02. The espacenet database contains 2862 published patent documents with this classification symbol.
One can also find this Russian document RU2669248C within this classification symbol, also on a tank with associated robots and drones, which, considering the dates of first filing and publication was not considered either of interest to the national defence by the Russian Federation.
Among the 2862 published patent documents with the classification symbol F41H7/02, one can find some that were probably classified as being of interest to the national defence for some time, noting the time elapsed between the priority date and the publication date:
One might wonder why these Ukrainian and Russian patent applications were not considered to be of interest to the national defence. One possibility is that a security check was not carried out. Another possible reason is that they do not actually disclose defence-relevant information, but are rather patents on inconsequential matters. I would bet on the latter, but in that case, were the patents mere propaganda? I lack the knowledge to answer that question; if any readers have possible answers, they would be welcome.
In any case, it is worth remembering that both states have important patent offices and both are international search administrations (ISA’s) under the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty). The OEPM-SPTO (Spanish Patent and Trademark Office) participated a few years ago (2014-2016) in a “twinning” with the Intellectual Property Institute of Ukraine.
Scrolling through the website of the Ukrainian Intellectual Property Institute, a news item highlights the war environment in Ukraine in recent years; it is a lecture on the importance of inventions in the anti-terrorist operation, which is the name given in Ukraine to the war actions against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region. There was also an exhibition of some of these inventions.
After these brief references to patents in the context of the threat of war looming over Ukraine, one can only hope that the bad omens do not come true and that the current war situation in Ukraine does not escalate any further.
Leopoldo Belda Soriano
Proofread by Ben Rodway