Update: The very first Mossberg US Patent infringement suit in 2012 Vs. Timney

I received an email earlier today which provided additional information on the continuing story of Mossberg’s numerous suits filed in reference to drop in triggers. The first suit was actually filed some years ago in 2012.

The first ‘385 patent infringement action actually started in 2012, when Mossberg sued Timney Triggers, LLC and Timney Manufacturing, Inc. in the District of Connecticut, Dkt. No. 12-cv-00198. (Amended Complaint below.)

That litigation has been stayed pending two re-examination requests by Timney, which are before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and were merged on March 29.

Mossberg recently moved in the district court case to lift the stay, prior to the above merger decision, and a ruling from the Connecticut federal court should be forthcoming soon.

Plaintiff, ) Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-00198-SRU
Defendants )
Plaintiff, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., through its attorneys, hereby alleges:
1. Plaintiff, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. (hereinafter “Mossberg” or “Plaintiff”), is a corporation organized under the laws of the state of Connecticut, having a principal place of business at 7 Grasso Avenue, North Haven, CT 06473.
2. On information and belief, Defendant Timney Triggers, LLC is a limited liability company organized under the laws of the state of Arizona, having a principal place of business at 3940 W. Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85019.
3. On information and belief, Defendant Timney Manufacturing, Inc. (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Timney” or “Defendants”) is a corporation organized under the laws of the state of Arizona, having a principal place of business at 3940 W. Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85019.
4. On information and belief, Defendants Timney Triggers, LLC and Timney Manufacturing, Inc. (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Timney” or “Defendants”) are affiliated companies.
5. This is a claim for patent infringement arising under the patent laws of the United States, including 35 U.S.C. §§ 271 and 281.
6. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this claim under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 and 1338(a).
7. On information and belief, Defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction because Defendants sell and distribute the accused infringing products throughout the United States and specifically to residents of Connecticut via retail locations and at Internet sites such as www.timneytriggers.com.
8. On information and belief, Defendants regularly solicit and conduct business in Connecticut and/or derive substantial revenue from the infringing products provided to businesses and residents of Connecticut. Connecticut businesses (i.e., retail locations) offer to sell those products. Connecticut residents purchase those infringing products from those Connecticut businesses or directly from Defendants. Accordingly, both jurisdiction and venue are proper in this court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391 and 1400.
9. Plaintiff Mossberg is a manufacturer of firearms (e.g., shotguns) and related items. Mossberg sells its firearms both in the United States and internationally.
10. Upon information and belief, Defendants manufacture trigger assemblies for firearms, including replacement triggers. Defendants sell their trigger assemblies both in the United States and internationally.
11. Mossberg re-alleges and incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in Paragraphs 1-10.
12. Mossberg is the Assignee and owner of all rights, title and interest in U.S. Patent No. 7,293,385 (the “‘385” patent), entitled “MODULAR TRIGGER GROUP FOR FIREARMS AND FIREARM HAVING A MODULAR TRIGGER GROUP”, duly and properly issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on November 13, 2007. A copy of the ‘385 patent is attached as Exhibit A.
13. Mossberg’s ‘385 patent basically describes a modular trigger assembly which can be substituted for an existing trigger assembly within a firearm, such as an automatic rifle (“AR”). Each modular trigger assembly can have a different trigger pull force. Therefore, a user can substitute a different modular trigger assembly if the shooter desires to have a different trigger pull. Different trigger pulls are used, for example, in target shooting and hunting.
14. Defendants have been and/or are directly infringing and/or inducing infringement of and/or contributorily infringing the ‘385 patent by, among other things, making, using, offering to sell or selling in the United States, specific modular trigger assemblies (for firearms) that are covered by the ‘385 patent.
15. Upon information and belief, Defendants manufacture and sell, among other things, a line of specific modular trigger assemblies (a.k.a. “drop in triggers”) for AR-15 rifles. Defendants identify its triggers as the “AR-15 Fire Control Group.”
16. Plaintiff has compared an actual modular trigger assembly from Defendants’ “AR15 Fire Control Group” and believes that trigger falls within the scope of at least Claims 1, 2, 3, 4 and 10 of the ‘385 patent.
17. Defendants also manufacture and sell a line of specific modular trigger assemblies (a.k.a. “drop in triggers”) for AR-10 rifles. Upon information and belief, Defendants’ line of AR-10 triggers falls within the scope of at least Claims 1, 2, 3, 4 and 10 of the ‘385 patent.
18. Defendants’ use, offer for sale and/or sale of their above-identified modular trigger assemblies has not been under license or authority from Mossberg.
19. Defendants’ activities constitute direct infringement, contributory infringement and/or inducement to infringe one or more claims of the ‘385 patent pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 271.
20. As a direct result of each Defendants’ infringement of the ‘385 patent, Mossberg has suffered, and will continue to suffer, damages in an amount to be established at trial. In addition, Mossberg has suffered, and continues to suffer, irreparable harm for which there is no adequate remedy at law.
21. Upon information and belief, Defendants had actual knowledge of the ‘385 patent before engaging in its infringing activity. Defendants have also had actual knowledge of the ‘385 patent before the filing of this complaint. Despite such actual knowledge of Mossberg’s ‘385 patent, Defendants have continued to use, offer for sale and/or sell the infringing products in the United States, including in Connecticut. Defendants’ infringements are therefore deliberate and willful and will continue unless enjoined by this Court.
22. WHEREFORE, Mossberg prays for relief as follows:
a. for a judgment declaring that Defendants have infringed the Mossberg
‘385 patent;
b. for a judgment awarding Mossberg compensatory damages as a result of Defendants’ infringement of Mossberg’s ‘385 patent, together with interest and costs, and in no event less than a reasonable royalty;
c. for a judgment declaring that Defendants’ infringement of Mossberg’s ‘385 patent has been willful and deliberate;
d. for a judgment awarding Mossberg treble damages and pre-judgment interest under 35 U.S.C. § 284 as a result of Defendants’ willful and deliberate infringement of Mossberg’s ‘385 patent;
e. for a judgment declaring that this case is exceptional and awarding Mossberg its expenses, costs and attorneys fees in accordance with 35 U.S.C. §§
284 and 285;
f. for a grant of permanent injunction pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 283, enjoining the Defendants from further acts of infringement; and
g. for such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.
Dated this __30th__ day of May 2012.

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


  • John

    Sad Mossberg… Sad

    • jng1226

      Why is it sad? They’re simply protecting their assets. They’re following the rule of law and the patent system that is established. Timney has also responded correctly according to the law. The judge will adjudicate this according to his interpretation of the arguments and case law. This is how business and the legal system works in this country, plain and simple.

      • John

        Sad because if there was true infringement going on, there would have been a lawyer to represent CMC based on the value of the case long ago.
        Now that a company with real money and lawyers owns it, they are just using the legal system to suppress the competition. Mostly becaus CMC triggers are lower on the totem pole. So it’s “big business” vs “mom & pop”.
        Crush the competition any you can and claim your a Christian while doing it.
        BTW, I’m sure some people getting sued are Christians, and I though the bible says something about Christians sueing Christians.

        • m-cameron

          “So it’s “big business” vs “mom & pop”.
          Crush the competition any you can and claim your a Christian while doing it.”

          thats capitalism pal…get used to it, this is America….

          • John

            The point is some companies use the legal system as a weapon… It has nothing to do with greed and capitalism, but rather fairness, honesty, and decency.

        • Uncle Festet

          Why do you think JM Browning needed Winchester, Remington, Colt & FNH? Although some of it was manufacturing capacity, those companies had the muscle to protect his inventions.

        • jng1226

          Highly doubtful that Mossberg aims to put anyone out of businesses. Very likely their goal is to engage in a royalty agreement with all parties. It was reported before that this particular patent was granted in 2011 and it was first used to file an action against Timney triggers in 2012, which is still an ongoing case. We have no idea how many cease-and-desist letters Mossberg has sent to potentially infringing companies before now, which is the common procedure to engage companies in licensing discussions, or any other communication between any of the companies either. Perhaps they have exhausted other means and now are filing the suit? Patent investigations and processws take time, as in years. The other companies don’t have to enter any agreement of they don’t think their designs infringe on the patent in question, that’s what the legal system is for and perhaps this is playing out that way. Bottom line, this happens all day every day in every industry where patents exist. Just because you don’t know the details or have experience in an induatry doesn’t make any company exercising their lawful rights “evil”.

  • Larueminati

    “such as an automatic rifle (“AR”)” classic

    • Austin

      You don’t expect them to admit that it’s Armalite Rifle do you?

  • Uncle Festet

    Mossberg is pursuing this case is evidence that they think they have a good case. Why?
    1) Litigation is expensive. Operating companies don’t spend money on lawsuits they don’t expect to win.
    2) The size of the drop in AR trigger group market is probably very small. Even if they win, they won’t make millions much less billions.
    3) Many if the targets are small, poorly capitalized companies that would probably be incapable of paying a large judgement,

    Patent trolls sue big companies (Google, Apple, banks) trying to make a big score. They don’t sue the Acme trigger company (with annual sales under $500k). Acme only gets sued if an inventor (or its successor) needs to protect their invention.

    Finally, if Mossberg wins its case against Timney (probably the biggest player in the trigger market), everyone else will settle because the patent will have been proven valid. If they lose, Mossberg will drop their remaining cases.

    • Bill

      Mossberg isn’t exactly a business leviathan itself, and IIRC is a family-owned/controlled business itself.

  • Smedley54

    This certainly explains why Timney wasn’t mentioned in the latest suit, and why they’re all over earlier patent reviews. Most of us would toss it based on prior art, but we’re not the judge, and – unfortunately – bad patents get enforced enforced everyday.

    • I believe that Timney is already in a pending lawsuit that has been put on hold pending the outcome of the reexamination of the patent.

      • Smedley54

        Right. When the latest lawsuit was announced against twelve other companies I had commented that Timney was conspicuous by their absence. Then I found the patent, along with the review history, and Timney was mentioned several times, beginning in 2012.

        So yes, this story documents that Timney was sued first, in 2012, so the latest lawsuits against the Trigger Group Twelve is just more of the same. As one that has been in the crossfire of a software patent lawsuit, my observation was that these things are dumb. Inventors deserve to profit from their work, and consumers gain by encouraging innovation, but this kind of patent is just plain trolling.

  • takirks

    I’m not getting how this patent was even issued. There’s so much prior art in this arena so as to make issuance of this particular patent nonsensical. The Tokarev, and Charles Petter were here back in the 1930s, and application to the AR-15 is a logical extension of existing art.

    I can’t believe this is even patentable, to be honest. The TT-30, the French M1935A and S, the MAC Mle 1950, and the SIG P-210 all use this idea of removable action blocks, and if I remember right, the P-210 had an Olympic target model that had different sets of lockwork for different types of competitions.

    The patent never should have been issued.

    • Mike Burns

      Read Claim 1 of the patent and compare it to all the prior art you cite. The reason the patent was granted will become clear.

      If you feel otherwise, file a request for re-examination.

      • Uncle Festet

        That would be a re-reexamination. Not only did the patent get issued, it survived a reexamination.

        But, people on the Internet who haven’t read the actual patent (and probably couldn’t understand it if they did) are “positive” that there is tons of Prior Art that is directly applicable to this particular patent.

        • jng1226

          That last part is exactly spot on. It’s like me saying how Chevy left so much HP on the table with the latest Z06. It really should have had over 1,000 HP but those darned engineers don’t have a clue what they’re doing at their jobs. The ignorance and self-righteous attitudes on these gun forums is embarrassing to me as a gun enthusiast, I don’t want to identify with this pitchfork and torch crowd that is actually stereotyped quite well by the progressive anti-gunners. This is why we can’t have anything nice!

      • As a patent attorney specializing in firearms and very well acquainted with this case, I can comment generally:

        1. Good advice about reading claim 1. It essentially protects the idea of sleeves being used as axles for pivoting trigger parts, and the hols in the sleeves being used for pinning the trigger unit to the frame of the gun.
        2. Reexamination is a good solution, because the are preexisting publications showing this concept that the examiner didn’t have before him when he granted the patent.
        3. Prior reexaminations have been filed (and failed) but current ones are pending, and I’ve yet to meet a patent attorney (not connected with the patent owner) who didn’t think this patent was VERY questionable, or downright invalid.

        I admire the innovators in this industry, and there’s nothing wrong with enforcing patent rights. But some patents should never have been granted, and lawsuits will be put on hold until the validity of the patent is resolved. One might wonder if Mossberg is rushing to get licensees signed up before the patent is formally invalidated. I would certainly advise against anyone agreeing to pay royalties if the agreement didn’t get cancelled (refunding past payments) should the patent be invalidated.

  • thach1130

    You’re an idiot, do you realized Mossberg paid the “inventor” ton of money for the rights to the inventor’s invention right? So you’re saying if you paid millions to inventors who cannot fully market a product for rights to produce the product and a chinese company comes in, use the invention to manufacture the product and sell it for a cheaper price because they don’t have to pay the inventor then you should just pack up and accept it because if you sue the chinese company you are “stifling” innovation? Clearly you do not have the right to sue the chinese company because you had no hands in creating the invention? Following your logic and suggested teachings, small inventor’s invention would be worthless because they don’t have the money to manufacture the product, the big company would not pay to buy their invention/idea because buying their idea/invention the big company cannot protect their investment and if they try to protect their investment then people like you will boycott buying their product.

    • Blake

      Nice to talk to you, totally not over-aggressive moron. Hard to know where to start when someone creates their own nonsensical circumstances completely unrelated to what I wrote. I wasn’t aware Timney etc. were Chinese companies, totally my bad man; I’m clearly not as learned as you. The strange thing is, US patents have no power over Chinese companies, but I’m sure a cohesive individual like yourself already knew that. Please enlighten me as to how to file a magic US patent that effects Chinese companies. Also, I must have accidentally deleted my comment where I mentioned anything beyond the US patent system. Since you’re so much smarter than I, can you please also help me find where I discussed a company that is actually using the patent and producing products under it? I thought I talked about companies like Mossberg who aren’t making drop-in triggers, I just can’t keep up with you apparently.

      Yeah… so as much as I love categorically and thoroughly tearing up poorly thought out and nonsensical replies, I have much better things to do. But feel free to shout at your computer screen while embedding your keyboard with even more Cheeto dust for as long as you’d like. Kisses.

  • mazkact

    I have nothing but respect for Timney. I love thier products and customer service. I wish they would simply come to terms with Mossberg and move on.

  • Billy Jack

    Buying a Timney trigger and a old Remington before I buy another Mossberg anything.

  • jng1226

    Of course it helps inventors and creators by giving tangible VALUE to the invention. Who do you think profited when Mossberg bought the invention from Mr. MCormick? Boycott away if you still don’t get it.

  • NebulousCat

    Stop buying Mossberg and CMC products. If they are no longer in business they can’t sue everyone else that is making a quality product.

  • Dan Hermann

    Guess I won’t buy another Mossberg product.