If you thought copyright issues and lawsuits were the prerogative of the music, film, and gaming industries alone, you’d be wrong. Two large German defense concerns Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann are going to find out in court which of them owns the copyright to the tank Leopard 2. Yes, the Leopard 2 that is now in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The conflict was reported by Reuters. Representatives of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall are scheduled to meet in Munich City Court on May 2, 2023.
The design of the Leopard 2 tank, as well as the Leopard 1, on which it is based, was developed in the 1970s by Munich-based Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. But the 120-mm gun for it was created and manufactured by Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall. In addition, it is Rheinmetall that is currently updating Leopard 2 of older versions to new modifications.
The lawsuit by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) relates to a statement made by Rheinmetall’s chief executive, Armin Papperger, in a March 2023 newspaper interview with the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, in which he said that Rheinmetall owned the rights to the Leopard 2A4 model.
The Munich District Court said KMW is seeking legal protection to prevent Rheinmetall from making what it considers to be “untrue, misleading factual assertions that violate its rights”.
Allegedly, KMW demanded from Rheinmetall a waiver on the Leopard 2, but Rheinmetall refused to do so.
It is not entirely clear what impact this legal dispute may have on the cooperation between the companies, which recently jointly announced that they have received an order from the German army to upgrade 143 Puma combat vehicles. The value of the contract is estimated at €770 million (approximately $845 million).
The increase in defense spending led to record profits for Rheinmetall in 2022 and allowed the company to enter the index of the most attractive companies for investment in Germany.