By Ben Langlotz | October 16, 2017 | Firearms, Intellectual Property Advice, Patent | 0 Comments
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
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:
For September 2017, I get this list of patents published in a particular technology classification:
|PUB. APP. NO||Title|
|1||20170276449||HUNTING ASSEMBLY COMBINATION INCLUDING GUN REST AND GUN BARREL SLEEVE|
|2||20170276448||RATCHET BELT LOCKING SYSTEM FOR HANDGUNS AND LONG GUNS|
|3||20170276447||Trigger Having a Movable Sear and Firearms Incorporating Same|
|4||20170276446||Weapon Locking Apparatus|
|5||20170276445||REGULATOR FOR A FIREARM AUTO LOADER|
|6||20170276444||Fixed Barrel Firearm Configuration For Reducing Recoil|
|7||20170273133||Communication Device for an Action Force and Communication Method|
|8||20170268849||Coupled Dual Switch Actuators with Lockout Feature for a Lighting Attachment to a Firearm|
|9||20170268845||ELECTRONIC SIMULATION DEVICE FOR WEAPON|
|10||20170268844||SWITCH BARREL RECOIL LUG|
|11||20170268843||SEMI-AUTOMATIC FIREARM TRIGGER MECHANISM AND SAFETY DEVICE|
|12||20170268842||FIREARM-SAFETY-SENSING CAMERA-LIGHT-LASER SYSTEM AND METHOD|
|13||20170268841||FIREARM SAFETY SYSTEM|
|14||20170268840||Mini-Gun with Access Door|
|15||20170268839||RECOIL SPRING FOR A FIREARM|
|16||20170261287||HOLSTER BODY AND RETENTION SYSTEM|
|18||20170261283||PORTABLE DRY FIRE PRACTICE SHOOTING SYSTEM|
|19||20170261282||BARREL STABALIZING AND RECOIL REDUCING MUZZLE BRAKE|
|20||20170261281||SOUND SUPPRESSOR ATTACHMENT SYSTEM AND METHOD|
|21||20170261280||ENHANCED METAL-METAL-MATRIX COMPOSITE WEAPON BARRELS AND WAYS OF MAKING THE SAME|
|22||20170261279||EXTRACTOR FOR A FIREARM|
|24||20170261277||Side Handle Firearm Actuation System|
|25||20170261276||RIFLE VENTED UPPER RECEIVER|
|26||20170259183||REVERSE PROPULSION AERIAL GAMING SYSTEMS, METHODS, AND DEVICES|
|27||20170258214||TWISTED IN WIRE BRUSH HAVING A MOLDED TIP AND METHOD OF ASSEMBLY THEREFOR|
|28||20170257552||RADIO-FREQUENCY TRIGGER SIGNAL SYSTEM APPARATUS AND METHOD|
|29||20170254611||CLEANING IMPLEMENT FOR FIREARM|
|30||20170254610||TWO-PIECE BARREL NUT|
|31||20170254609||Flash, Noise and Smoke Suppression Device|
|32||20170254608||PISTOL FRAME DISASSEMBLY BED WITH SINGLE PIECE AND MULTI-PIECE CONSTRUCTIONS|
|33||20170254607||PISTOL FRAME DISASSEMBLY BED|
|34||20170254606||FIREARM 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:
If anyone figures all that out upon first reading, you can come work for me any time!
Patents first filed in 1997 expire this year, 20 years later.
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.