Robinson Arms sues Remington, Magpul and others

Solider system reports

Robinson Arms, manufacturers of the XCR have filed suit yesterday in US District Court for Utah against Remington, Bushmaster, Rock River Arms, and Magpul Industries based on alleged infingement of their patent (Multi-caliber ambidextrously controllable firearm #7,596,900) issued 6 October, 2009 and initially filed in August of 2003.

I will be sure to ask Robarms about this at SHOT (and they will be sure to tell me they cannot say anything for legal reasons).

RobArms

The patent in question can be read after the jump.

[ Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link. ] (more…)



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Vitor

    The current patent laws are a mess that many times stiffle inovation.

  • Keith

    If the abstract is any indication, this is a first class case of the abject crappiness of the patent system.

    It looks to me that looking at the abstract, the fellows at Robinson are essentially trying to patent the concept of modularity and inherent user customization on a light weapons platform.

    How on earth can you patent something as broad as that? This reminds me of the first patents for the Pong-type videogame systems, which attempted to patent any control of a computer generated image using a console remote control.

  • Rex

    If I had to guess, it’s not the “modularity” that they’re suing over, it’s the bolt catch mechanism. The two mechanisms are identical in that they are right next to the trigger guard (actuated ambidextrously with the index finger of the firing hand) and are identical in function.

    But it’s just a S.W.A.G. so whatever. At least they’re not suing over a number.

  • Nathaniel

    Not content to be just an arsehole who makes a fancy new FNC copy, he’s got to then impair the progress of the firearms industry as a whole.

    The patent system is at best totally jacked up. If Robinson’s claim isn’t ridiculous enough for you, then check out these:
    http://www.google.com/patents?id=OfwkAAAAEBAJ
    http://www.google.com/patents?id=T2QKAAAAEBAJ
    http://www.google.com/patents?id=hhYJAAAAEBAJ

    Robinson has hopefully picked his last fight here. I hope FN, Cerberus, Magpul, and whoever else he’s trying to sue collectively countersue his pants off.

  • jdun1911

    There is a large discussion on AR15 about this lawsuits and the merit of it.

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=984754

    • jdun1911, thanks for the link.

  • Magpul

    Sued by ARMS for patent infringement

    Sued by VLTOR for patent infringement

    Sued by Robarm for patent infringement

    I see a trend developing

  • Nill

    If you think that patent is convoluted then you need to read more patents. They’re all this way, even the earliest ones. The overwrought language actually plays a part in limiting the claims.

    Patents are usually far more narrow in scope than a quick glance would have you believe. For example, this filing didn’t patent the “idea” of a modular, multi-caliber rifle, or even Robarms implementation of one.

    Skip straight to the Claims section at the end and you’ll find that all 25 claims deal solely with their version of ambi magazine and bolt-catch controls, spelled out in excruciating detail.

    What this means is that the only thing this document protects are mag releases and bolt-catches that function in the same exact manor as implemented on the XCR, nothing more.
    Not the “idea” of ambidexterity, not the simple location of controls, and definitely not abstracts like modularity or customization.

    The big question, are the ACR controls mechanically identical? In the few cross-section images available they do appear similar, and it’d be naive to think both companies haven’t been in contact about this issue for quite some time or would enter costly litigation lightly. So why the lawsuit and why now?

    A safe presumption is that a licensing agreement wasn’t settled upon for any number of reasons during development and the ACR is now, finally, after many delays, entering production for an immanent launch. You simply can’t charge infringement until the other party actually tries to make money on it.

  • Me

    Wow. This isnt good.

    Its one thing for an industry such a computer hardware and software, to begin mud slinging and claiming the ridiculous under patents. In light of how huge they are, they can afford to be petty.

    Example: http://ticc.uvt.nl/~pspronck/ridiculouspatents.html

    But the firearms industry has a lot more to be concerned about IMHO, than wasting money this sort of petty apples vs oranges stuff.

    Plus really shouldnt Armalight or Colt be the ones who can claim this? Seriously I have always considered the AR/M16/m4 platform to be modular. Granted its only been recent since we have had so many options etc.

    Also is this Robinsons response to the ACR? That would be my guess. The players they name are all part of it arent they?

  • LurpyGeek

    The patent issue does not concern the modularity or user customization. “Multi-caliber ambidextrously controllable firearm” is just the name of the patent. The issue is concerning the ambidextrous bolt release design that Robinson patented which is also a design feature of the up and coming ACR.

  • Jeff m

    Legal thuggery, civil extortion, call it what you will…

  • Destroyer

    bollocks to Robinson arms…keith, good example. you cannot patent something that broad…

    somebody is a sore loser…

  • Edward

    This would have been so much easier if Armalite/Colt had shouted from the rooftops, “FIRST!”

    Then again, the M4-type weapon designation in turn has become so prevalent that that itself became generic, after the Colt vs. Bushmaster/H&K lawsuit.

  • KP

    You know I’ve never heard anything GOOD about Robinson Arms. Probably because they try so hard to be like this.

  • Wut?

    People seem eager to comment before checking out the story.

    The patent and lawsuit only cover Robarms style ambi controls and the specific way they function. Legalese makes it look crazy and overreaching, but the enforceable claims are actually pretty narrow.

    Mudslinging over junk lawsuits, software patents, trademark disputes, and broad, unpatentable generalities not only has little to nothing to do with this case but ends up sounding downright silly and fanboyish.

  • Johnny C

    Had a partner take one of Alex’s XCR rifles out to Blackwater for a week long course. It didn’t last a half day before it was given up as an absolute failure.

    Buddy sold is the next week.

    Alex is a visionary and good engineer but ability to execute and support is poor and now this shows lack of support for an industry that is very much one that leapfrogs. IMHO that’s where this is going, they took a concept and improved upon it and now it’s sour grapes on the part of ROBARM.

  • Bandito762

    This is almost as ridiculous as the Russians getting upset about people copying the AK…

  • Vitor

    Given the 1:9 twist and the hefty price tag of the ACR, Robinson has nothing to worry about.

  • Wuulf

    So, is this what its coming to? I think I haver read about five of these patent suits in the past six months, and every time I shook my head and asked “Why would some dumbass think they could get away with this?”

    So, since we are no longer trying to do something truely innovative, and resorting to just suing the big (popular) companies over something the rest of the world has long since taken for granted as being pretty much public domain, I believe I shall file a patent for the use of all materials other than wood and steel on a firearm.

    Because hey, if you can sue over a number, or an ambidextrous mag release (which pistols have enjoyed for a while, nothing super innovative about how they work) then I stand a shot at someone approving it.

    (This post was not meant for trolling, just my sarcastic ranting)

  • Chris P

    It’s funny to me that so many people (especially on the AR15 forums) are upset at Robinson Arms about this. It’s like being mad at the banks for taking bailout money from the government. It’s the government, acting far outside its constitutional authority, that people should be upset with. Robinson is (sadly) acting 100% rationally within a flawed system.

    Unfortunately, the patent system, unlike TARP, actually is constitutional. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea though. For more on the absurdity of so-called “Intellectual Property” check this out: Against Intellectual Monopoly.

  • DRod

    To those claiming you can patent such a thing as modularity or some other broad scope of ideas, take a minute and research the Smart Parts patent fiasco that happened a couple of years ago in the paintball world.
    THAT was total BS. But legal just the same.
    Boobery like this can and will change things just like it did in paintball.

  • PatentAtty

    Unless you know what you are talking about, you really should not attack anyone. It’s the same as in self defense. If you saw someone hitting a woman, would you shoot them? What happens if afterward you found out that they woman was a thief and shot someone? Unless you have at least some semblance of understanding of patent law, just remain silent on such issues.

    As Nill points out, the property rights of a patent are defined in the claims. This is a very limited patent on a particular magazine catch system. Infringement looks pretty close to me. In any case, dismissing this out of hand is wrong. Patents often take 3 or more years to obtain from the US Govt, and in this case took about 5 years. The inventors clearly put a lot of time into this, and saying that folks should be able to use their invention under some odd theory of “we are all gunny people” is wrong. Name your favorite firearms manufacturer and then ask whether they would sell what they do if they didn’t make money at it. Endgame: this is a business just like any other, and theft of intellectual property should be treated like any other property theft. If we don’t reward inventors for their ingenuity via patents, eventually they will throw in the towel.

    The Founders of our great nation would turn over in their graves if they heard the comments about patent rights being made here.