Gun patents and clones

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by valnar, Dec 10, 2020.

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  1. valnar

    valnar Member

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    I feel like I've been on this Earth long enough to know this answer, but I don't. Why are certain guns like 1911's and AR15's able to be manufactured by anyone, but not other guns? I understand there are some 19th century Western designs built by the Italians such as Uberti, but that makes much more sense since they are ancient. But there are a lot of years between the 1911 and AR15. The AK47 is one notable exception, but why not others?
     
  2. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    It's mostly due to patents expiring. Look at the growth in the 80% Glock clone frames. The 80% frames are all based on older frames which the patents have already expired. As long as the patents and copyrights have expired then there is nothing to stop others from making copies of the original. The other thing to keep into consideration is if there is an actual demand for certain models to be copied.

    Another example is the micro 380 and 9mm pistols from Kimber, Sig, and Springfield Armory. The Kimber Micro, Sig P938/238, and Spring field 911 are all copies of the original Colt with was a licensed copy of a Star pistol from Spain.
     
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  3. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    Most people don’t know this, but some of the nastiest fights our founding fathers had was over patents and copyright. And the history and stories are very interesting.

    I’m not a legal expert, but I deal with patents and copyright in my work. The short version (and not 100% accurate but good enough for this discussion) is once a patent or copyright expires the work is then in the public domain.

    To complicate matters, some things are done under government contract and the work is a public good aka owned by the people of the country.

    So once a copyright or patent expires you’re free to build on the work or use it. Of course some exceptions apply so it’s always advisable to consult a legal expert.

    But for the sake of this if you wanted to and had the skill, tools and materials, you could get a set of AR or 1911 plans and make your own. Again restrictions such as California or other state laws may apply, and federal laws may apply if yo7 plan to sell your work. But that’s by you have to do research and make damn sure your legal advisor knows the laws well.
     
  4. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    I overlooked the part about government contracts and the designs being in the public domain sooner.
     
  5. valnar

    valnar Member

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    I'm a big fan of the Czech V.58, and although they aren't as popular as AR's and AK's, they certainly must be popular enough since the two places that import them are constantly out of stock, and they go quickly when they come in. I figured that would be ripe for someone to start up a clone company.
     
  6. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    With something like the V.58, it is more the cost of producing the rifle than anything else. Especially since barrels and parts kits can not be imported anymore. Yes there are some AK kits still being imported but they do not include the barrel.
     
  7. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    the biggest thing is that there is no need to. All the successful economic designs are already being cloned at a pricepoint most cant compete with. Look at the most popular like...
    Beretta 92, cloned by taurus
    CZ75, cloned by Tangfoglio, IMI, many others, and now in the $300 range for some imports.
    Glock, not really cloned, but you can buy a "glock" without a single glock factory part. There are many that copy the design concept and tweak it enough and make it look different. Glocks aren't widely cloned because they're boring, and cheap, and most glock like firearms cost as much or more. I hear PSA is making a true clone anyway.
    10/22 have been, still are
    Contrary to popular believe, most Soviet guns are not cheap to make. Slave labor, and 100% subsidy is why those designs were made.
    D/A revolvers have never been cheap enough to make good enough to sell, though S/W has been heavily cloned legally and not.
    PP/PPK's have been liscensed or copied by numerous makers.
    Uzi's have been cloned by a few.

    Where I'm going with this, to be copied the design needs to be famous enough to draw attention, like the PPK or Uzi, or unavailable.
    If neither applies, your best chance is making a better quality clone at higher cost, like the Bergara 700's, or making a lower quality model at lower cost, which is difficult for makers that cant push their own design.

    I know there are designs I didn't name, but can anyone name a well established model that's not cloned or still in patent protection?, other than crazy expensive designs like Lugers (although they are), or FAL's?
     
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  8. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    As has been said, copyrights and patents expiring are a big reason.

    One notable oddity among the oft cloned firearms is the CZ-75, though even in its case its some funky patent stuff. The original Czech patent was classified as "secret." That meant nobody could learn of their existence and nobody could file the same design in Czechoslovakia, but it also meant they couldn't file for patents abroad. When the design inevitably leaked out, companies could basically clone it with impunity.

    Had they gotten patents internationally at that time they still would have expired by now, but cloning of it started ALOT sooner for the above reasons.
     
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  9. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    That one is an interesting one as well. Taurus has their clone of the 92 because they bought Beretta's old factory in Brazil along with all the machinery, etc.. The patent had already expired on the original 92 design, but they were (maybe still are?) making their clone on the original Beretta machinery. I actually prefer the frame mounted safety of the PT-92 to the slide mounted one on the Beretta.
     
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  10. MAKster

    MAKster Member

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    While the time limit has changed over the years, patents currently last for 20 years. So anyone can make a Glock, CZ-75, AR-15, Colt 1911, 10/22, or 870 pump action clone. You just can't call it a Glock or a 870. The reason why some guns aren't copied is because there is no demand or the copy would cost as much as the genuine version.
     
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  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    A recent patent infringement lawsuit involves the 300 WSM cartridge and rifles. Rick Jamison, a gun writer who was fairly popular in the 1980's and 90's developed the idea as a Wildcat round and named his creation the 300 Jamison. He approached Winchester with his design and offered to sell it to them. Winchester declined, but shortly after introduced the 300, 270, 7mm, and 325 WSM cartridges.

    Jamison sued and won. Winchester was required to keep manufacturing both the rifles and ammo and pay Jamison a royalty for every rifle and box of ammo sold for a specific time frame. All other manufacturers had to pay the royalty too, but they weren't required to manufacture them. Prior to the suit there were a handful of rifles made by Ruger and Remington in the WSM cartridges. After the suit both Remington and Ruger stopped making rifles in the WSM chamberings. Ruger came out with the 300 RCM and 338 RCM and Remington their Short Action Ultra Magnums instead. These were different enough to not be a patent infringement.

    People often wonder why so many short magnums were introduced at the same time. The lawsuit is why. The WSM's really are better designed, but no one other than Winchester, or Browning which was under the same ownership, wanted to pay the royalty. The only other manufacturer, that I'm aware of who did was Tikka.

    The WSM's are really great cartridge designs, but the lawsuit really hurt the round getting off the ground. If they had been picked up by other manufacturers and ammo made by others the rounds might have had more success. I'm fairly certain the time frame for paying the royalty has expired by now
     
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  12. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    The design of the M1911 is actually owned by the US Government, as are the designs of the M1 and M14, and are essentially open-source.

    The AR-15 design is still the sole property of Colt's Manufacturing LLC, and technically require a license to produce. However, reverse-engineering (with assistance of the 1995 data breach by the Army and Navy) has made AR conforming parts widely available.

    And a note -

    Copyrights pertain to the exclusive right to make copies of a creative works such as literature, music, art, and software code. Copyrights do not apply to mechanical designs.
    Patents pertain to inventions, new and hitherto unknown mechanical devises that are useful. And, just because a patent expires, it does not mean the actual drawings for an existing object are free to the public at large, just the use of the underlying principles. When Rollin White's patent for the bored-through revolver cylinder expired, it did not mean anyone could make a Smith & Wesson Model 2 revolver. It just meant that anyone could make a revolver with a cylinder bore completely through from front to rear with a hole approximately the size of the bore.

    Just because Glock or Colt's patents have expired does not mean you get to use Glock or Colt's drawings to make stuff, but as long as the shape is not trademarked or covered by a separate design patent, you can reverse engineer a "clone".
     
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  13. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    The CZ-75 had the misfortune of being designed and made in a country that, due the the "iron-curtain" and other political complications, was unable to sue to enforce patent and licensing infringements. And, due the the lack of the IP owner attempting to enforce ownership the design passed into public domain. To put it bluntly, the Italians stole the drawings from the Czechs, and sold it on to others.
     
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  14. valnar

    valnar Member

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    This is all good reading. I didn't know about the Army/Navy breach, and just skimmed that whole document.
     
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  15. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    I don't know that any patent really existed on those anyway, most of the design dated to the P38, I think the lockup, trigger, and decock anyway. i think the only reason they aren't more cloned (didn't Wilson clone it? I know there was a company years ago making replacement receivers for them) is because Taurus is cheap, police trade in are cheap, and they aren't all that great to begin with. If not for 80's movies, I'm sure they would have never been too popular. If not for the US contract, I don't think they would be any more remembered than the S/W second gens.
     
  16. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    absolutely. A shame too, these are fantastic and once very cheap. They do get the legacy if not the cash though.
     
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  17. Sniper66

    Sniper66 Member

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    I've wondered the same thing about the Bergara BXR which is a definite clone of the Ruger 10/22. It even says on their webpage that 10/22 rotary mags are compatible with the BXR. I'v owned both and they are very much alike. I like my BXR much better, but that's beside the point. Having had and shot both, the similarity is readily apparent. How to they do that without violating patents??
     
  18. rust collector
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    rust collector Moderator Staff Member

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    There are a few copies of the 10/22, including Thompson Center, AMT, Voquartson, Kidd and I am sure others. As previously noted, any patents have expired, but care must still be used to make it clear that the copies have no connection with Sturm, Ruger & Co, Inc.
     
  19. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    Ruger shouldn't complain, I've never seen a more blatant copy than Ruger's original LCP copy of Keltec's P3AT, which were even magazine compatible.
     
  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I understand there are several types of protection.
    Patents run out. Trademarks are good as long as they stay in use.
    There is also "trade dress". Colt sued U.S. Pt F.A. Mfg. Co. for looking too much like a Colt SAA and they had to change their name and roll marks.
     
  21. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Patents expire, but trademarks do not (as long as they remain in current use). That's why Uberti, for example, can make an SAA, but cannot slap the Colt name or the Colt logo on it.

    It's possible to trademark certain features of a design, so that it's effectively impossible to copy the product as a whole. (There's a reason why patent lawyers are so well paid.)

    (Jim Watson beat me to this while I was still writing it.)
     
  22. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    Yes a Patent and a trademark are two different things. I have seen Colt go after other manufacturers for trademark infringement especially with guys building a true retro clone of older rifles. There use to be a few companies that would engrave a period correct (Vietnam era) Colt logo onto 80% lowers for the clone builders and most received letters from Colt telling them to stop due to trademark infringement.

    Now with Glocks and the 80% clone frames. I asked Polymer 80 a few months back if they had any plans on making a G48, or any Gen5 compatible frames. Polymer 80 replied that they do not have any plans to do a Glock Gen 4/5 compatible frame anytime soon due to Glock patents. The Polymer 80 frames are different enough so that they do not infringe on trademarks.
     
  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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  24. Dain Bramage

    Dain Bramage Member

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    That misfortune went both ways. Communist countries had no problems infringing on western patents and trademarks, and there was nothing the owners could do about it. I remember all the knock-off Disney comics in Yugoslavia when I visited relatives in my youth.
     
  25. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    There's a separate issue in that "we" are awash in firearms available for sale.
    Brownell's recently announced that they are not going to make any additional batches of their BRN-10 complete rifles.
    They made only about 2000 in the initial run, and have been happy enough to sell all but a hundred or so.

    There's always more talk about buying reproductions and/or clones than actual sales. This has been a major issue in recreating historical arms. Everyone wants one, just not at the price an accurate one would cost.

    But, no point listening to me:
     
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