The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:25 p.m.]
1554. Weekly newsletter No. 178 of USSR branch of FEA94 dated April 21, 1945, paragraph IV, deals with request of Soviet engineers for permission to ship descriptions and sketches of 9300 patents on plastics to USSR and notes that since USSR provides no protection to patent not registered in USSR, matter has been brought to attention of State Department which is stated to be taking steps toward arriving at an equitable arrangement with USSR regarding use of patents in the country.
We would appreciate being informed of any steps taken by Department in this matter.
As Department is aware, the Soviet Union has been engaged for years in copying machinery, articles and processes patented in US and other countries. In USSR it is not illegal to copy foreign patents which are not patented in USSR. Soviet policies make it difficult for foreign inventors or owners of patents to take out patent in USSR. Even if patent is taken out, it is unlikely that foreign patentee will receive any particular remuneration, due to nature of Soviet patent laws.
In addition, the Embassy has found by experience that it is extremely difficult and frequently impossible for US officials to obtain details from agencies of Soviet Government on Soviet patents. On the whole Soviet patents are regarded as State secrets.
It is, of course, desirable that agreement be reached with USSR so that US patents are protected here and practical systems worked out whereby US patents are regarded as valid in USSR and US patentees can receive remuneration when their patents are made use of here. However, existing situation is, of course, definitely to advantage of USSR. Presumably Soviet agents can obtain descriptions and sketches of US patents without difficulty and send them to Soviet Union for study by diplomatic pouch or other means. When necessary or desirable machinery or device can be purchased for copying purposes and sent to USSR. There is absolutely no protection of either property interest of patentees or of US national interest in this connection.
It is doubtful that USSR would be interested in any agreement with US on patents so long as it is possible to have access to and copy US patents on a wholesale scale with complete impunity. It therefore appears to me that the solution must be found in Washington; and it would seem desirable that a study be undertaken by the Government [Page 851] agencies concerned with a view to imposing the maximum possible legislative and administrative barriers against utilization of our patent information by agents of governments which do not give us patent protection. This is unquestionably a prerequisite to any satisfactory patent agreement with USSR.
Meanwhile, it need hardly be added, Russians should not be encouraged in wholesale shipment of US patent descriptions and sketches.
- Foreign Economic Administration.↩