In 2009 Heckler & Koch (USA) sued German Sport Guns GmbH (GSG), who manufactured the GSG GSG-5 .22 rifle, and American Tactical Imports (ATI) who imported the GSG-5 into the USA. They successfully argued that the GSG-5 infringed upon their design patents for the H&K MP5. They took court action soon after licensing the design to Umarex who were designing a competing MP5-patterned .22 rifle. GSG paid a settlement of $300,000 and agreed to modify the design of the GSG-5 so it looked less like an MP5.
But, things just got interesting! GSG and ATI are now suing Heckler & Koch GmbH (Germany) and Heckler & Koch (USA) for $16.5 million in punitive damages. GSG claims they now have proof that H&K did not own the rights to the MP5 design when they sued GSG and “forced GSG into a settlement”.
The trial is scheduled for early 2015. As soon as we know more about this court case, we will let you know.
The GSG press release follows …
Ense, 5. September 2014 – German Sport Guns GmbH (GSG), a leading manufacturer of airsoft guns and small-caliber weapons and their US importer American Tactical Imports, Inc., have filed a lawsuit against the German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch for infringement of design rights and fraud. GSG is suing Heckler & Koch for a total sum of USD16,5m in damages. The lawsuit also includes the assertion of punitive damages and is directed against Heckler & Koch GmbH in Germany, its American subsidiary Heckler & Koch, Inc., as well as the German CEO Niels Ihlhoff and his US counterpart, Wayne Weber.
The case is the latest episode of a smoldering dispute that has been continuing for years over the industrial design rights for the HK MP5, a sub-machine gun from Heckler & Koch that is especially popular in the United States.
In 2007, GSG launched the GSG-5, a small-caliber weapon with a design similar to that of the MP5. As part of the launch, German Sport Guns denied that Heckler & Koch is the owner of the respective design rights.
Nevertheless, 2009 saw a settlement between German Sport Guns and the US subsidiary of Heckler & Koch, in which Heckler & Koch, Inc. accepted a payment of USD300,000 from GSG. In return, GSG had been allowed to use modified design elements of the MP5.
However, later it was revealed that Heckler & Koch, Inc. did in fact not own the rights for the MP5 and had therefore wrongfully forced GSG into a settlement. In the meantime, a comprehensive discovery process aimed at the collection of evidence had already been completed.
“We are very confident that despite the considerable legal costs, we will end this protracted litigation in our favor,” said German Sport Guns CEO Michael Swoboda. “We have adhered to all agreements and will not accept a restriction of our business in this form.”
The date for a possible jury trial is scheduled for early 2015.