Does any entity own the "rights" to particular calibres?


#1

This is something I thought of over the weekend during a 200 mile drive:

Let’s suggest someone wanted to start a factory producing calibres such as 9x19, 7.62x51, 5.56x45 or 7.62x39.

Does any person / company / government etc. still own the rights to these calibres? What I am trying to say is that are you supposed to pay any sort of royalties if you manufacture them?

I would think this situation would apply to modern commercial calibres such as .17HMR to give an example. Would you need to pay for permission from Hornady to manufacture it?

This is just something I happened to think of and don’t remember being discussed on the forum before now.


#2

Falcon–I think it would only be if there was a patented feature or a trademarked name. I doubt if a caliber or case type could be owned by a company. For instance, it is my understanding that every .30-06 pointed FMJ Bullet used by the U.S. in WW-I required a Royalty payment to Germany because the Spitzer shape was patented by Germany. So, the U.S. had to pay Germany for the right to shoot at them!!!


#3

Falcon
There are some (modern) cartridges that are copyrighted / trademarked / patented, however it (sorry to say) doesn’t take a lot to “create” a “close enough” copy that defeats the patent.
Using Ackley’s shoulder angle as an example: If he had “trademarked” the angle, than all “Acme Ammo” would need to do is change the angle 1^ either way to defeat / circumvent the trademark. Or eliminate/change the 2 radius’s (IE: to 1 in either position, or none at all) on a Weatherby design and any TM Roy on his design had would be gone.
Another (current) example would be J.D.Jones 300 Whisper (trademarked) and the Remington’s 300 Blackout. Only a slight difference in the case, just enough to get around JDJ’s TM.


#4

From Europe, one can get the impression that under the U.S. patent system >everything< may happen.

Most nations require some intellectual level of the invention in the sense that things obvious to a professional cannot be patented. MEN in Germany once tried to patent making a more powerful cartridge by lengthening and increasing the diameter of the cartridge. (I am not joking!) They failed. As far as I can tell, dimensions as such cannot be patented because of lack of any level of invention as long as we are talking of an ordinary cartridge layout.

The case RonMerchant mentioned (US patent 841861 of 1907, German 204660 of 1904, both assigned to DWM) is something very different: a certain bullet shape for aerodynamic efficiency, very different from what was common at the time. (That the idea of this shape was effectively stolen from the French is another matter. But the French decided to say nothing; classification as an end in itself - sounds familiar.)

Last not least, all patents expire. Cartridges like 7.62x51 are much too old for being under patent protection. That makes the Russian whining about former allies who produce “unlicensed” AKM clones (a design at least 60 years old) so funny.

Trademarks are a very different matter, of course. For many years, Ford could not call its car Mustang in Germany, because Krupp had been in the automobile business (actually trucks) and had obtained a trademark on this name. When the French brand Simca renamed itself Talbot, they had to settle with a German railway rolling stock maker of the same name (Waggonfabrik Talbot, Aachen). Trademarks do not automatically expire after a given number of years like patents.


#5

So did the Brits. They used Krupp designed fuzes (No80 series) and had to pay after the war.


#6

The very new commercial calibres are no doubt trademarked but the parent companies have a pressing need to gain market acceptance and that requires adoption by other manufacturers. At the end of the day they are all in business to make money. Often I suspect the only real commercial success they gain from new calibres ( which require a huge amount of R&D these days) is prestige.


#7

Yes, although other makers are likely to wait to see if the new cartridge is successful before investing in the resources to copy it, so the originator will have a window of opportunity to make some money (and their name can be associated with the cartridge for evermore, which isn’t bad marketing).

SAAMI registration is the key here, of course. Once the precise measurements and other key characteristics are registered, anyone can copy the round without needing to pay any fees. If they are not registered, all that can effectively be patented by the originator is the name. The introduction of the .300 Blackout, virtually identical to the unregistered .300 Whisper, has been mentioned. Another example is the 6.5mm Grendel. A virtual copy of this round was introduced by Les Baer Custom under the designation .264 LBC-AR. Alexander Arms promptly registered the Grendel, which means it is likely to remain far more popular than the LBC.


#8

Michael McPhearson and Byrom Smalley claim the round shoulder of their 5 mm/35 SMc wildcat is patented. Roy Gradle had the same rounded shoulder on his 7MM and 30 Gradle Express cartridges in the 1940-50 era. Gradle never patented his design and even so a patent would have expired by the time the 5mm/35 came along. Have to go a long way to prove to me the round shoulder works as advertised to force all the powder to burn within the case to keep throat erosion at a minimum.
Gourd


#9

Michael McPherson and Byrom Smalley claim the round shoulder of their 5 mm/35 wildcat is patented. Roy Gradle had the same round shoulder on his 7 mm and 30 Gradle Express cartridges in the 1940-50’s. Gradle did not patent his shoulder and a patent would have run out by the time the 5 mm/35 came out. Have to go along way to prove to me the design burns all the powder in the case to keep throat wear down.
Gourd


#10

Sorry about that the first post did not show up for a few minutes and thought it was lost.
Gourd