India may soon have its desi AK – 47, reported Times of India. It is expected to be more potent than the Russian made AK – 47. As per the report, the weapon which is developed by Tiruchirapalli Ordnance Factory in Tamil Nadu, is undergoing final rounds of evaluation. Not formally christened so far, the weapon is known as Tiruchirapalli Assault Rifle (TAR).
The report traced the development of the desi version back to a Defence Expo in New Delhi in 2000. Apparently, a replica of desi AK-47 was put on display which invited the wrath of original designer, Mr. Mikhail Kalashnikov himself. On his threat to file a copyright infringement suit, the plans for a desi AK-47 were put on hold. Further, the report noted that the technology has been tweaked in the desi version to preclude any allegation on copyright violation.
Assuming the veracity of the report, I am intrigued by the idea of filing copyright infringement suit against the placement of replica of AK-47 in the Defence Expo. As you are aware of, copyright can subsist in a) Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; b) Cinematograph films; and c) Sound recordings. If Mr. Kalashnikov contemplated filing a copyright infringement suit, the only plausible option is to file the suit claiming it as an "artistic work". As per S. 2(c), “artistic work” means (i) a painting, a sculpture, a drawing, an engraving or a photograph, whether or not any such work possesses artistic quality; (ii) work of architecture and (iii) any other work of artistic craftsmanship. Evidently, it would have been an arduous task for Mr. Kalashnikov to prove it as an “artistic work” and claim infringement.
Further, I am unable to comprehend the idea of tweaking technology to preclude allegations on copyright infringement. Copyright protects “expression” of an idea and not an “idea” by itself. In fact, when idea and expression become inseparable, copyright is not granted since protection of latter will lead to monopoly over the former (doctrine of merger). Even if the report meant tweaking of technology to preclude allegations on patent infringement, it would have been still incorrect - since the technology behind AK – 47 (adopted by Soviet Army way back in 1949) does not enjoy patent as it already formed part of prior art.
Considering the aforesaid aspects, I don’t think anyone can be blamed if he/she calls the report to be a puerile piece of writing!!