J.B. Custom sues Taurus

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James Buchanan, the owner of JB Custom, is suing Taurus for trademark infringement. Earlier this year Taurus unveiled their Rossi Ranch Hand pistol. The Ranch Hand is their take on the Mare’s Leg pistol which featured in the late 1950s show Wanted: Dead or Alive. Since 2006 Buchanan has been selling1 Mare’s Leg style pistols and two years ago he filed for a trademark on the name. The Journal Gazzette reports …

Buchanan obtained a federal trademark and in his lawsuit claims “common-law” rights over the use of the Mare’s Leg mark, as well as lever-action firearms of a “particular shape, design, and overall appearance.”

“It seems like every time I do, someone bigger than me wants to take it away,” he said. “I got a little smarter with this one.”

I tried locating the court documents but was not able to find them. I presume this lawsuit is over trade dress infringement, not trademark infringement. Taurus has not using the name “Mare’s Leg”.

The Rossi 92 used in Firefly

It is odd that he is suing over a design that has probably existed for 100 years. Since the 1950s, pistols of this design have been prominently featured in television and film. A Rossi ’92 converted to this design, which is essentially what the Rossi Ranch Hand is, was used in the TV show The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (early 90s) and Firefly (2002) as well as the movie Serenity (2005).

I have no idea if James Buchanan has the legal right to the design. To me, a non-laywer, it seems absurd that he should own the rights to an old design that has been produced on-and-off for decades and been prominently featured in TV shows and movie productions.

[Hat Tip: SayUncle ]

UPDATE: Wane.com reports

Buchanan filed a federal lawsuit against Taurus to recover damages. He said the lawsuit is worth millions of dollars. Buchanan claims his business is ruined.

“They’ve basically destroyed my market by producing and selling it for a third of what I was getting. That was the main one, my mainstay, and it’s just like they are taking away everything I ever did,” said Buchanan.

He is claiming damages from Taurus for selling a gun that has not yet gone on sale.


  1. JB Custom’s Mares Leg pistols are manufactured by Chiappa


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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  • SpudGun

    If only Mr. Buchanan had come out with a 1911, then he could have really cleaned up at the courthouse.

    This lawsuit is blatantly ridiculous and is just another in a long line of litiguously inept decisions that benefit no one except the high priced lawyers involved.

    Personally, I think Winchester should sue them both.

    • Max

      Here,Here! Well said .Winchester should,but didn’t Winchester sell the company or the model 1894 and 94s and 92s to an Asian company and are now since 2000-something ,no longer Winchesters? I forget the Asian or rather Chinese company name that took over
      Basically since 2000-something…another company name manufactures the copy models of Winchesters lengendary levers?
      Correct me if I m wrong,here though

  • seeker_two

    JB Custom is just upset that now there’s an alternative to paying a grand or two for a gun that Taurus is making for a decent price….

    Whatever happened to competition?

  • http://rockinaseaofchaos.blogspot.com/ Aaron

    This news story: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20100923/LOCAL03/309239976/1002/LOCAL

    states that:
    “According to court documents, in 2006 Buchanan originally contracted with Amadeo Rossi S.A., a Brazil-based firearms maker, to manufacture his gun for exclusive sale in his shop. He sold the gun for about $1,700.

    In 2008, Taurus bought Rossi, a rifle and revolver company, and assumed Rossi’s obligation to exclusively deal with Buchanan for the sale of the Mare’s Leg, according to court documents.

    Buchanan said he never heard from Taurus about its plans or what the company intended to do about the contract.”

    So (if this is to be believed), he was contracted with Rossi to make the guns for him and Rossi agreed not to make them for any one else.

    Why isn’t he suing Puma/ Legacy for selling the same thing? ( http://www.legacysports.com/products/puma/puma_bhunterm87shot.html )
    Oh, because the Puma/ Legacy gun is just as ridiculously priced as his gun is.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Aaron, he has a deal with Chiappa who make the Pump Legacy gun

  • Slim934

    “To me, a non-laywer, it seems absurd that he should own the rights to an old design that has been produced on-and-off for decades and been prominently featured in TV shows and movie productions.”

    To me it seems absurd that any human being can claim property rights over something which is inherently NOT property (ie. a design, pattern, configuration, etc.)

  • ap

    Obviously, his attorneys aren’t guy guys. Or, they’re taking him for a ride. This is like Ed Brown suing ATI. Give me a break.

  • http://www.guntotinhippies.com Tim Covington

    I understand how he feels. But, it is ridiculous that he is claiming trademark on a pistol version of a lever action rifle.

  • http://www.unclejohnstech.com hojo

    Wow, I’m gonna knock off a ridiculous and impractical gun and then sue when someone does the same thing to me. On the other hand, Firefly is awesome.

  • glockboy

    Hopefully this falls through, as this is probably the reason Taurus/ Rossi are pushing back the pistol. Afterwards maybe people will stop dealing with this greedy SOB.

  • http://rockinaseaofchaos.blogspot.com/ Aaron

    Interesting. All the news stories are saying that he contracted with Rossi to build the guns:
    http://www.wane.com/dpp/news/huntertown-gun-maker-sues-major-company

  • ap

    Does this mean I’m going to have to wait even LONGER, now?! I was supposed to have this thing in November, then it was delayed to Q1… now this legal wrangling. Wonder if this had anything to do with the first delay?

  • El Duderino

    Don’t forget about Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson’s character) in Zombieland.

    On another note, the characters in that movie were remarkably poorly-armed for being the only people within hundreds of miles who could use guns. I would have loaded up at the LGS/police station/national guard depot/actual military base rather than carry a dumb lever action pistol or coach gun like those morons. If I wasn’t zombie lunch first…

  • xstang

    …seems just like the deal with Izmash suing people making AK-47 clones. Take a gun that has been around for a good 50 years, finally get around to making a patent/trademark on it, and *BOOM*- sue anyone that makes anything close to it.

  • New Hampshire State of Mind

    If J.B. custom has any registered (not pending) trademarks/patents on the design Mr. Buchanan could have a case against Taurus. However this is unlikely and proving that his companies modification of a Winchester type weapons system with long expired patents of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company(Oliver Winchester)/Fabrique Nationale(FN) and the Browning Arms Company is stretch, considering that even Winchester’s design is based on the earlier Henry rifle by Benjamin Henry. But stranger things have happened and Mr.Buchanan could pull off a successful claim(still unlikely) in court considering recent cases were large corporations have managed to trademark and patent things like common phrases, even discoveries of specific genes within the human genome (pharmaceutical corporations).

  • Matt

    I want one of those right now.

    I can’t see him haveing a valid trademark on a what is essentially a “short lever action” I mean shit… Can I get a trademark on 6ft ladders? What about 12″ long socket wrenches? Size 38 pants? Heck no I can’t.

    Now if he truly had an exclusivity deal with rossi then that is another matter and he should be sueing for breach of contract, not infringement.

    Hopefully it gets settled without any fuss.

  • Justin Grigg

    I think its the price that has him mad. Taurus is selling the gun under $600 when his gun is well over twice that. Hows he gonna sell any guns with that in his way? This is his last chance at survival.

  • http://homeplace-artsstuff.blogspot.com/ Arthur B. Burnett

    I’m no lawyer either, but I second seeker_two here. At a cost of $1,000.00 plus per unit I would always want, but never seriously consider, one of these weapons. What was the Ranch Hand priced at, $500.00 plus.

    I just know I have The Ranch Hand on my list and have told the local gun shops to let me know when it’s available. Who ever quotes me the best price gets my business.

    Dose that make me a cheapskate? I call it being a smart shoper, but will wear either lable proudly. Has it ever occured to J.B. Custom they would sell a dozen units at the lower price for every one they sell at their “times 3″ premium price? Do the math people.

    The folks at J.B. Custom are selling a modification of a hundred year old plus design. I don’t see them offerin g anything to the orginal developers.

  • Komrad

    @Slim934
    but what about patents, trademarks, copyrights, and all other intellectual property
    without intellectual property laws, plagiarism would run rampant and there would be little incentive to invent when you can just steal someone else’s design
    but I do agree, some intellectual property laws are absurd or misused (ie RIAA suing college kids over a few downloaded songs)

    this falls into the absurd misuse category
    he did not invent the design nor the aesthetics
    he has not right to sue

    however, if this has something to do with Rossi’s agreement to deal only with him, then he should sue them for breach of contract

  • Burst

    Based on Aaron’s update, it sounds more like breach of contract than copyright infringement.

  • CY

    When this gets to court is the issue of the word JUDGE going to come up?

  • jamie

    says he is suing over the trade mark name. Not a patented design. He payed no license to use the original design as the patent had expired.

    You can copyright anything, the famous boxing announcer micheal buffer copyrighted the phrase “lets get ready to rumble” than and a relationship with trump, he has parlayed that phrase into a 7 figure per year salary. He wont show up anywhere for less than 50k.

    “Since 2006 Buchanan has been selling1 Mare’s Leg style pistols and two years ago he filed for a trademark on the name. The Journal Gazzette reports ..”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark

    People do deserve to make money off ideas, especially when other people want to use said idea, or piggy back on brand equity etc, or awareness one created promoting their brand.

    Its pretty sickening people on here think people should not be able to make money on good ideas, and worse, that $1,700 is a “cRAZY” price.

    Purdey makes $100,000 double barrel shot guns, thats pretty crazy, when CZ makes nice double barrels. People live in $100 million dollar homes, to homes they bought for $1,500 like a double wide trailer, or old ranch home in urban detroit.

    Spending double the cheapest price on can imagine, is not “crazy”. Whats crazy is thinking its crazy.

    I am amazed by the level of hateful folks who lust over nice things in the gun community, and car community, and they just dont want to pay for them. They hate people that will pay for them, and they hate the people for making them and not giving them away.

    What is weird, is why do these people want said guns, except to impress other folks.

    Its gawd damned childish as hell.

    Also it sounds like the folks at JP had an exclusive contract for Taurus to produce these pieces as a SUB CONTRACTOR, then taurus decided, hey we have a dealer net work, we have marketing dept, we have distributors, lets just sell them ourselves.

    Thats not right.

    Buchanan does not have right to the design, he can own the name if someone else let it lapse.

    He can have an exclusive contract with taurus.

  • jamie

    whoops i meant to add in the last post that people get patent, trade mark, and copright confused very often.

    He says he trade marked the name.

    If he did not have an exclusive agreement with taurus, me or you or anyone could produce a replica of the gun, and just call it something else to distinguish it.

    We could call it the ML 2010. People would know it meant mares leg. We could call it the m2010. the emm ell. What ever. We could call it the xg35 which makes no sense, but we could sell it legally as a xg35. He does not own the design, he only owns the name.

  • Vitor

    Komrad, there is still plenty of incentive to invent and develop new stuff when one doesn’t need to worry about intellectual property, specially that the person can improve someone’s else idea without the fear of being sued.

    Just check how the software envolved quickly, because programmers understood that ideas are means, not an end.

    For anyone who wants to check a bold and logically consistent approach to intellectual property, I recommend the writings of Stephen Kinsella:

    http://mises.org/journals/scholar/kinsella6.PDF

    It’s not a long read, but quite insightful.

  • Roadkill

    If Taurus and Rossi breached contract, then by ALL means they should get the legal troubles that entails. However, if this guy is trying to say that he some how deserves the rights to anything LIKE his product, then he’s a fool. Also, if he’s selling a high end product, then I have no issues with him selling it for 1k+. If you have two products that are almost identical and one is selling for twice the other, the high cost one is going to suffer. However, if that higher priced product is the superior product, people who want quality will go for it.

  • http://www.debunkers.org/ SPQR

    You can’t trademark functional features. That’s blackletter law.

  • Hugh D.

    Capitalism how does it work?

    What a cry baby. So someone realized they could sell the same thing for 1/3 the price and now he is upset. That is the free market.

  • Laenhart

    @jamie
    I must disagree with the idea that disliking certain manufacturers because they restrict access to their products (either by price or other means) is childish.
    Take H&K and the MP5 for example. It is VERY difficult for the average person to obtain a real MP5. This is due to a combination of laws about civilian ownership and their general reluctance to sell to civilians. Many people would be more than happy to pay thousands of dollars for semi-auto MP5s, but H&K absolutely refuses to take their money. Why? It boils down to the fact that H&K is convinced that they couldn’t get enough money to make it worth it. So yes, people that disagree with them are justified in being frustrated with H&K.
    Then there are the double guns you mentioned. Most manufacturers have decided that double guns are to be made to a higher standard than most other types of actions, even semi-autos. I am well aware of the manufacturing complexities of double guns, and the fact that the current market favors high-end guns. But the recent success of mid-range doubles demonstrates that people that ask for cheap doubles are willing to pony up. I can sympathize with their frustration with the manufacturers that have refused to fulfill their requests.
    If manufacturers are able to decide to avoid markets that don’t have enough profit margin, or simply refuse to take the money of peons, people can dislike them for no better reason than that.

  • New Hampshire State of Mind

    @Laenhart

    I think your getting a couple of facts wrong about HK an other foreign arms manufactures. The HK corporate focus has always been primarily towards military and law enforcement with the civilian market being a secondary priority largely due to German/EU laws which severely restrict the exportation and sale of “military grade” weapons for civilian use. Coupled with our own gun law(s) that banned importation of 100% foreign made assault type rifles/smg’s for civilian use a long time ago unless they were cosmetically changed by the makers to look less like “dangerous military rifles”. That is one the reasons HK has opened a new manufacturing facility in Newington, NH to circumvent some of these laws and have a more direct sales route both towards the U.S. civilian market and a larger potential for quantity sales to the U.S. military. I am by far not an expert on this issue, Steve and other readers of this blog who know a whole lot more about this than I do. I hear complaints(envy & general ignorance) about the high price of HK, LWRC, FN etc. and other high end manufacturers at my local private range from members all the time but you know what target shooting would a pretty boring sport if everybody just used Glocks and cheap M4/AK47 type clones(no offense) :)

  • Cymond

    I can understand breach of contract with Rossi, but can he really trade mark ‘Mare’s Leg’? Isn’t that phrase in the public domain?

    If this really just about a trade mark, then Taurus/Rossi obviously just needs to change that detail. Heck, they’re calling it the Ranch Hand. If someone other than Taurus decides to label it a Mares Leg, then JB’s problem is with the 3rd party.

  • Laenhart

    @New Hampshire State of Mind
    I agree that HK has always focused primarily on military sales and that a very big reason for that is restrictive laws on importation. I am also happy that they have opened manufacturing in the U.S. to try and get around that.
    You are absolutely right that shooting would become very boring if only certain weapons were available, and that is what I believes drives the frustration with companies that limit access to their products. It is a honest desire for variety and quality, not immaturity and jealousy. If people did not complain and pester HK or other manufacturers, how would they know that there was a potential market for their products?
    All I can say is that I do like HK and I can understand their strategic decisions. I also am pleased to see that they seem to be recognizing the market in the U.S.

  • Critical J

    It shouldn’t take a high-priced lawyer to read a timeline to the presiding judge and convince him of the obvious. It’s one thing to trademark a name like “Mare’s Leg” if no one else has thought to do it. But don’t try to take credit for a thing that’s got a longer history than your own lifetime, Buchannon. Besides, your business couldn’t really have been booming in the first place if “Mare’s Leg” pistols were your top shelf item, they’re not huge sellers by any means and if you hiked-up the price for triple what Taurus/Rossi wants to sell it for than screw you, this is still America and you’re operating in a competitive market place. If your product doesn’t stand-out then you better cheapen-up quick and get used to not ripping-off the average American guy buyer anymore *flips the bird*

    Then again, if anyone was ever stupid enough to pay upwards of $1500 for one of these (practically) novelty items then I might jump to take ‘em for the ride as long as I could to, but I wouldn’t cry when the ride was over, Buchannon. Time to buy tickets for the next one if the line’s not too long…

  • RonnieBob

    Sounds like possible breach of contract. There is always more to the story than we know. Meanwhile, while these guys are duking it out in court, how about someone like HENRY coming out with a .22 version of this “ponyleg” pistol? I would buy one so fast. How about it HENRY?

  • BobSmith

    This is a century old design. It’s public domain, and nothing he filed will hold up in court. Any gun maker can build a mare’s leg pistol without any legal ramifications, just as anyone can build a 1911 or a rifle with a Mauser action. Not to mention it was another maker’s design, which means you can’t hold a legal copyright on it regardless.

    If he wins, I’m gonna go copyright Mickey Mouse, and sue Disney.

  • Solo_Sam

    A pard on SASSnet explained that JB had a exclusive contract with Rossi to produce Mare’s Leg guns and sell them through JB Custom’s store and brand. The question for the courts is whether the exclusivity contract is binding to Taurus after it acquired Rossi. The article above doesn’t go into this, and makes it sound as though he is suing just because someone built a better mousetrap.

  • 101nomad

    I might have a case to sue GMC for using the name, “jimmy” on some of their vehicles?