Steel Spines Required

After the Mandalay Massacre* I must salute my friends and clients who produce innovative products that help guns go “bang” faster and better. It’s indisputable that select fire weapons are of great military usefulness, and even if these are effectively banned to the people the Second Amendment should be considered to protect bump-fire stocks, rotary trigger, and binary triggers. Like any firearm these can be used for evil purposes, but they can also be used to ensure “the security of a free state” in the same manner that full-auto machine guns are used by our troops for good purposes. I believe that our industry and the rights of the people are best served by supporting those among us who may face attack, and not by throwing them to the wolves in hopes that the wolves won’t be back soon for the next of us.

To those who think that banning certain guns, features, and accessories could be successful enough to prevent this type of attack, consider that the madman also owned airplanes. Now imagine a fuel laden crash landing into the same crowd. The death toll might have been greater by an order of magnitude. The lesson from worldwide crime statistics is that gun control does not reduce killing. It just changes the means while rendering innocents defenseless.

*The fact that the “Mandalay Massacre” phrase has not been used in any media report suggests that MGM Resorts has some very effective PR people with very good media connections. Smart brand protection measures

GLOCK SECRETS LEAKED

Why This Was Old News to Savvy Patent Insiders Like Us

Hidden in Plain Sight?

In recent weeks, the Internet was ablaze as the top gun blogs breathlessly shared the news that a “German Magazine Leaks Rotating Barrel Glock”. This was exciting stuff in late September until you learn that it was public knowledge to the patent world in July. That’s because the Glock Patent Application was published months earlier, and it took the journalists that long to figure it out.

Most patent application are published 18 months after the filing (which might be a provisional application). And at that point their entire Patent Office file is made public so anyone can see rejections and all the back and forth arguments. I use this all the time when a client worries about someone’s product marked “patent pending.” If it’s been 18 months, then we can see exactly what aspects they’re trying to protect. I’ve even helped clients modify their design to avoid using a patent’s features and to avoid the risk that the application might be granted.

As an aside, you can request that your application not be published, which preserves secrecy, but the disadvantage of that is that it limits your foreign patent filing rights, and it limits damages in infringement lawsuits – they don’t start until an unpublished patent is actually granted, instead of starting with publication.

You probably think I’m odd to believe that patent searching is one of the more interesting things to do on the Internet. But if you’re in the industry it can be awfully important to know what the competition is up to.

There are three interesting types of patent searches:

  1. New publication searches are the first to reveal what companies are working on, even before product release. This is how we can know Glock’s hot-off-the-press news even before the connected journalists do. It even reveals technical details than can be useful to know.
  2. New patent searches tell us what has just been granted. This lets us know whether a product has strong protection or weak. If it’s weak, we might easily avoid the patent and compete head-to-head.
  3. Old application searches are how we can see what patents are just now expiring. Patent owners fear the day 20 years after their first application was filed, because their patent rights expire and the invention is fair game for all competitors. But sometimes patents expire without the competition realizing it, and a patent owner enjoys a little extra period of high profits before the competition kicks in to drive prices down.

For September 2017, I get this list of patents published in a particular technology classification:

 PUB. APP. NOTitle
120170276449HUNTING ASSEMBLY COMBINATION INCLUDING GUN REST AND GUN BARREL SLEEVE
220170276448RATCHET BELT LOCKING SYSTEM FOR HANDGUNS AND LONG GUNS
320170276447Trigger Having a Movable Sear and Firearms Incorporating Same
420170276446Weapon Locking Apparatus
520170276445REGULATOR FOR A FIREARM AUTO LOADER
620170276444Fixed Barrel Firearm Configuration For Reducing Recoil
720170273133Communication Device for an Action Force and Communication Method
820170268849Coupled Dual Switch Actuators with Lockout Feature for a Lighting Attachment to a Firearm
920170268845ELECTRONIC SIMULATION DEVICE FOR WEAPON
1020170268844SWITCH BARREL RECOIL LUG
1120170268843SEMI-AUTOMATIC FIREARM TRIGGER MECHANISM AND SAFETY DEVICE
1220170268842FIREARM-SAFETY-SENSING CAMERA-LIGHT-LASER SYSTEM AND METHOD
1320170268841FIREARM SAFETY SYSTEM
1420170268840Mini-Gun with Access Door
1520170268839RECOIL SPRING FOR A FIREARM
1620170261287HOLSTER BODY AND RETENTION SYSTEM
1720170261285SELF-DEFENSE DEVICE
1820170261283PORTABLE DRY FIRE PRACTICE SHOOTING SYSTEM
1920170261282BARREL STABALIZING AND RECOIL REDUCING MUZZLE BRAKE
2020170261281SOUND SUPPRESSOR ATTACHMENT SYSTEM AND METHOD
2120170261280ENHANCED METAL-METAL-MATRIX COMPOSITE WEAPON BARRELS AND WAYS OF MAKING THE SAME
2220170261279EXTRACTOR FOR A FIREARM
2320170261278Gas Key
2420170261277Side Handle Firearm Actuation System
2520170261276RIFLE VENTED UPPER RECEIVER
2620170259183REVERSE PROPULSION AERIAL GAMING SYSTEMS, METHODS, AND DEVICES
2720170258214TWISTED IN WIRE BRUSH HAVING A MOLDED TIP AND METHOD OF ASSEMBLY THEREFOR
2820170257552RADIO-FREQUENCY TRIGGER SIGNAL SYSTEM APPARATUS AND METHOD
2920170254611CLEANING IMPLEMENT FOR FIREARM
3020170254610TWO-PIECE BARREL NUT
3120170254609Flash, Noise and Smoke Suppression Device
3220170254608PISTOL FRAME DISASSEMBLY BED WITH SINGLE PIECE AND MULTI-PIECE CONSTRUCTIONS
3320170254607PISTOL FRAME DISASSEMBLY BED
3420170254606FIREARM HAVING A DUAL CAM, COCK ON CLOSE BOLT ACTION AND A LOW CREEP SEAR AND STEP TRIGGER ASSEMBLY

Here’s one by the noted William Geissle. It’s a AK recoil spring with a couple tightly wound coils. I can’t say how important it is, or whether it’s likely to be granted, but I do appreciate its simplicity:

Even without reading it, it’s effectively a way to add a “weight” to the middle of a spring without adding anything that could come loose. Elegant. Bill G. must have found that this provides a benefit. I don’t get how this actually improves reliability and operation, or extends the life of the spring or reduces recoil forces as the application says, but if that structural feature is new and provides a real benefit, then they might just have something.

F1 has a publication seeking to protect the idea of putting vent holes in an upper receiver. Interesting:

Savage is seeking to patent “A bolt action firearm that cocks the firing pin upon closing the bolt and includes a cam pin for a high velocity rimfire cartridge. In one embodiment, actuating the main spring while closing the bolt, instead of while opening the bolt, provides added safety against misfiring. A safety system is provided for the trigger mechanism and a robust connecting system for the stock.” Here’s what it looks like:

Here’s the claim 1 they’re aiming for:

  1. A bolt action firearm, comprising: a bolt assembly including:
    a main body defining a central bore along a central axis and an elongate slot that passes through said main body;
    a cam cylinder mounted to said main body, said cam cylinder defining a spiral-shaped slot that passes through said cam cylinder;
    a handle portion coupled to said cam cylinder; and a cam pin that extends perpendicular to said central axis, through said elongate slot of said main body, and through said spiral-shaped slot of said cam cylinder, wherein rotation of said bolt assembly about said central axis with said handle portion causes said spiral slot of said cam cylinder to rotate about and exert an axial force that is parallel to said central axis against said cam pin, which causes a translation of said cam pin within said elongate slot of said main body.

If anyone figures all that out upon first reading, you can come work for me any time!

Patents expiring – Fair Game!

Patents first filed in 1997 expire this year, 20 years later.

A Colt Patent on a One-Piece Gas Block with an Alignment Key Expired Last Month (left). HK Modular Dual Caliber Rifle Patent Expired (right).

Belleni Shotgun Patent Expired (left). SIG’s Triangular Safety Patent is Expired (right).

It’s interesting to see which patents are still providing value 20 years later, and which are not. But the reality is that when a patent’s expired, it’s fair game and open season for any competitor to copy that invention. I should caution that there can be related patents still unexpired, and you should not proceed into this territory without a more complete patent search to ensure that your proposed competing product doesn’t infringe a newer unexpired patent.

Let me know if you have questions about any particular patents, and whether you enjoy keeling up on the competition by learning about patents that are newly published, granted, or expired. If there is interest in this kind of news, I can make this an occasional special issue.

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About the Author: Ben Langlotz

Ben Langlotz is the nation’s leading firearms patent and trademark attorney, and the author of Bulletproof Firearms Business: The Legal Guide to Success Under Fire. He is trusted by more firearms industry companies than any other lawyer or law firm in the nation, and is consistently ranked at the top of all attorneys in securing gun patents and gun trademarks.