AR-15, 1911, HK, FAL clones and patents


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natedog
March 27, 2004, 08:47 PM
I see certain types of guns, such as the G-3, AK-47, FAL, and especially the AR-15 and 1911 have many different manufactuers. I don't know much about patents, but why is it legal for so many companies to produce designs, like the AR and 1911, that Colt surely patented? Did they run out? Are all others' models just slight variations of the original?

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BluesBear
March 27, 2004, 09:10 PM
The US has 3 kinds of patents, Utility Design and Plant.

In the US, the term of a utility patent depends on when the patent application was filed. If the patent issued from an application filed prior to June 8, 1995, the term is the later of either 17 years from the date of issuance of the patent, or 20 years from the first US filing date for the patent.

If the patent is issued from an application that was filed on or after June 8, 1995, the term is 20 years from the first US filing date.

US Design patents last for 14 years and Plant patents last for 17 years.

So you can see the patents have expired for all of the guns you mentioned.

Dave Markowitz
March 27, 2004, 09:16 PM
In the US patents last for 17 years, IIRC. During that time period, the patent holder holds the exclusive right to use the patent. After the patent expires, whatever was covered by it falls into the public domain.

Browning's patents are all long expired, explaining the ability of companies to make copies of his designs. Any patents covering design features of the other guns you mentioned are also expired.

Note that trademarks don't expire in a set time, since ownership is contingent upon use and defending it against misappropriation. For example, I am quite sure that if somebody other than HK were to make a G3 clone and call it an HK-91, HK's lawyers would be all over them like white on rice for trademark infringement.

You could go into business and make "M1911s" because that is a US military model designation, not a commercially-owned trademark. In contrast, if you start selling your own rifles and mark them "AR-15," expect to get a nastygram from Colt's attorneys.

(BTW, the G3 was a licensed derivative of the Spanish CETME.)

Stevie-Ray
March 27, 2004, 09:43 PM
if you start selling your own rifles and mark them "AR-15," expect to get a nastygram from Colt's attorneys. Why? I thought AR was for Armalite, the original manufacturer of the AR-15. Colt was simply licensed to produce them also, right?:confused:

At any rate, my SAR-48 (taken, of course, from Springfield Armory Rifle and the military's designation of the FAL which is M-48) is nothing but a copy of the original FAL. I don't mind, as the original Fabrique Nationale versions were cost prohibitive at the time of purchase.:D I'd love to have a AR-15 variant also. And a M1A. Maybe a Garand.......................

Nightcrawler
March 27, 2004, 10:08 PM
Because patents aside, "AR-15" is a registered trademark of Colt's Patent Firearms Company.

BluesBear
March 28, 2004, 02:00 AM
I thought AR was for Armalite, the original manufacturer of the AR-15. Colt was simply licensed to produce them also, right?

AR stands for Automatic Rifle.
Colt wasn't licensed, they bought ALL of the rights. They in turn had control of the licenses. Even Armalite couldn't make them anymore.

Patent Works
March 28, 2004, 01:00 PM
I got here too late to be of any assistance, except to say that you are getting good answers here.

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