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For obvious reasons we’ve been keeping on top of any developments in this lawsuit by Mossberg against effectively all of the manufacturers of drop-in AR-15 triggers (comparison review of every drop-in on the market). Yesterday, I posted about some “prior art” that these manufacturers may likely use in their defense — attempting to prove that Mossberg’s patent isn’t valid because the invention already existed, and/or it was not novel and didn’t “teach” anything. Today, we’ve found something significantly more interesting: a current re-examination of the patent that appears to have rejected all of its claims . . .

Now, there’s a heck of a lot of legalese and long-winded technical discussion in this Ex Parte Reexamination Communication (click to download as a PDF) and I am not a lawyer. Nor do I play one on TV, nor have I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express for many years, and I probably suffer from lead exposure. However, from what I gather a few of the patent’s claims have been officially canceled (1, 2, and 4 most recently, and 10 a while ago), and almost all of the rest (3, 5-9, and 11-15) are pending a final ruling but are, at current, “rejected.”

As it has been made clear, Mossberg’s patent and related lawsuits are not about “drop-in” triggers. It’s much more specific than that, and centers around the concept of a replacement, self-contained fire control unit that employs hollow bushings through which the factory receiver pins pass and on which fire control group parts (e.g. hammer, sear, trigger) rotate. In this patent reexamination, it appears to me that both the novelty of this invention (its status as non-obvious) and the claim that the patent was the first to teach the invention are both being rejected. Basically, it’s saying that this idea existed already — prior to the patent being filed — and that anyone of ordinary skill in the art would have found it to be obvious anyway.

A bunch of screen shot snippets from the PDF that may be of interest:

rejected1 rejected2 rejected3 rejected4 rejected5 rejected6 rejected7 rejected8 rejected9 rejected10 rejected11 rejected12

This is all public information on the USPTO website, but unfortunately I can’t link directly to the relevant documents. You’ll have to go to the Public Pair search section and search by Reexamination Control Number 90013341 if you’d like to see all of the information available.

Watch this space for any further developments. According to the doc, Mossberg has or had 30 days to reply from when it was mailed, which appears to have been just over a month ago. I do not know if they replied and the final ruling is underway, or what the exact, current status might be.

What say you?

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  1. If it is at this post suggests, Mossberg doesn’t even have a patent to enforce anymore.

  2. So, is the English translation of this that Mossy can go pound sand with their recently-filed lawsuits against the other manufacturers?

  3. I told you Mossberg would lose hard. What do all the pompous a$$’s say now? You know, the ones that tried to back Mossberg for doing the right thing?!?

  4. Actually, the action was sent 3 days ago and they almost always get an extension of time. So don’t hold your breath waiting for a quick response.

    • The date on the lawyer letter is a few days ago, but the date of the reexam for which it states 1 month to respond seems to be last month (20th or 21st iirc, on my phone now). I have no idea which matters here. But, yes, I’ve heard that extensions are super easy to get and looking at the history of this mossy/timney thing, it’s been going on for a long time with many extensions in the mix previously.

  5. Yeah, it didn’t pass the “non-obvious to someone versed in the art” test.

    But for those who didn’t read it, the “idea” was an INTERNAL module (no trigger guard or whatever like an SKS), where the pins holding it in place were used as pivots for the internals. So basically, just putting a housing around a normal trigger group.

    Doesn’t sound novel to me.

  6. Who among us who knows a bit about firearms didn’t see that coming?

    Altho it is pretty interesting to see a new patent fight in the field of firearms. It’s been a long while since there has been a patent pissing match in the gun world.

    Before WWI? Hoooo boy, were there some royal legal battles. Epic legal battles.

    Interesting footnote to gun patent pissing matches of Ye Olde Days: Most of John Moses Browning’s (cue the Tabernacle Choir here) designs were never produced. Oliver Winchester purchase most all of JMB’s designs until the A5 came along, but Winchester wouldn’t make most of the designs into guns. As JMB explained to his wife, when she asked by Winchester would buy designs, but never make them into products: “Sometimes, Oliver is just building fences.”

    • This sounds kind of like the way S&W bought the patent for drilling a cylinder straight through in the late 1800s and defended it so aggressively, don’t it? Except that they won that one, and it looks like Mossberg is going to lose this one. It sure seems like drilling straight through should have been obvious also, but that’s not how it worked out. All other revolvers had to wait for the patent to expire.

      • Many things can be obvious in hindsight, but often are overlooked because they are “off the beaten path” of usual approaches.

        Drilling a cylinder straight through is obvious … once you have a metallic cartridge with a rim on it to hold everything, and if you’re starting from a clean sheet, perhaps. But if all you’ve worked on so far has used powder, ball and primer cap, well then of course the cylinder can’t be bored through, because…well, because that’s just how it’s done, obviously.

    • Not surprising at all, and I know a fraction of what you do. But I can read abstracts and parse claims of novelty.

      This one wasn’t difficult, once it got re-examined. The USPTO used to actually have knowledgeable examiners actually look for prior art, and not just say “Sure! Let the courts sort it!” as they do these days.

      Many people have trouble with the tortured language and concepts of abstracts and claims, so its not uncommon there were a lot of folks who actually believed the nonsense Mossberg was peddling.

  7. NOT surprised. We’ll see how this plays out but they seem to have gotten thrashed on this.

    ED:Doesn’t HK use a self contained trigger pack from a long long time ago?

  8. This fight has been bouncing around the PTO for a couple of years. In 2014 there was a reexamination of the patent. One of the claims was invalidated, but then Mossberg added additional claims. That same year there was a second reexamination, but nothing seemed to come of it. In February there was yet another reexamination. Yikes!

    Note that the patent at issue is not for a drop-in trigger. It’s all about the pins/bolts/holes and the way they are used. Based on the position and type of the pins and holes, it seems that the patent can apply to AR rifles and maybe nothing else. I’m not familiar with every rifle platform in the world, so I can’t say for sure.

  9. I went to the Mossberg website and sent them an e-mail. I told them they had lost me as a customer for being greedy extortionists due to their patent lawsuits. Wonder why I have not gotten the promised response?

  10. So, bye, bye licensing income?

    Can’t imagine anybody paying to produce something that just became public domain…

  11. My prediction:

    Mossberg’s next lawsuit will be against the people who sold them that worthless piece of paper that purported to be a patent…

  12. My prediction:

    Mossberg’s next lawsuit will be against the people who sold them that worthless piece of paper that purported to be a patent…

      • Seems like every time a company (and sometimes people) have to tell you they are “good Christians”, watch your back or prepare to get screwed.

        It has been my experience that good people, regardless of faith, don’t need to go around telling everyone. It is evident in their actions and character.

        • Actions and character? Lol! anyone who went to sunday school knows that jesus just went around telling everyone “i’m a good christian, trust me!”

        • Back when people used to put “PTL” for Praise the Lord on their business cards, I always joked that meant “Prepare to Lien”, because they were about to come up with some shadiness.

  13. I wonder if CMC, as a Christian company, will do the Christian thing and refund Mossberg’s money for that valueless patent they passed off on them (bearing false witness)?

    “CMC Triggers is a Christian company, privately held and not owned by O.F. Mossberg or anyone else.
    We pay our bills when they’re due including our royalty responsibility to O.F. Mossberg.

    Fair competition in the market place is only fair if the playing field is level.

    We proudly stand with them in their pursuit of what is right in regard to all the companies that infringe on their Patent.

    Shame on anyone that would spin negatively O.F. Mossberg exercising their right under law to collect royalties.

    Jack R Biegel, Pres. CMC Triggers Corp.”

    • Seems to me the CMC found nobody had bothered to file a patent on drop in trigger packs and ran to the patent office. Then they realized that the patent was unenforceable and looked for a sucker to buy it. So of course CMC is going to defend Mossberg and play like they had no idea anything was questionable. The whole thing is garbage. I’m not sure what Mossberg is thinking but looks to me like this has blown up in a way they didn’t count on.

  14. Seems Mossberg is getting what they deserve, nothing. Thanks for poisoning the well Mossberg family, of an industry that needs no negative actions such as this. You have lost many customers over this action, including me. Bu Bye

  15. I have been in the market for a new shot gun and filing frivolous patient claims such as this make me dislike companies… I will probably speak with my money and not buy the mossberg shotgun I wanted and go with someone else.

  16. Mossberg pretty much lost my business a few years back. I bought one of their 100 ATR rifles in .243 Win and found the mag would only hold three rounds plus a forth in the chamber when it’s supposed to hold 4+1.

    Having had decent luck with them I called their customer service department and was pretty much told I was an idiot who didn’t know how to load a bolt action rifle.

    So, to make sure I went back and tried another dozen times with the same result, with four in the mag the bolt couldn’t be closed no matter what I did. So… after screwing around with it myself I took it to a gunsmith and $75 dollars and a couple days later the rifle would take 4+1. I got a letter from the guy explaining what he did and how the floorplate had been improperly manufactured and improperly installed he included pictures. I sent a copy of all of this to Mossberg along with a request for them to cover my costs.

    I received a lengthy letter back which basically boiled down to “F&^k you and your rifle”.

  17. Sounds like mossberg needs some money. I’ll look over their products and see if there is one that can fit my next wants.

  18. You know, Wilson Combat made a very self righteous FB post about how proud they were that they paid their licensing fees. Larry Vickers showed up in the comments supporting them.

    Maybe they should have waited a few days before commenting.

    I think Mossberg did a reasonable thing in an unreasonable way and now they’re going to pay for it.

  19. I’m with you guys. FU Mossberg. After a brand new .17 blew up in my 8 year olds face because of a headspace issue according to my smith (had him look at it before I sent it in) and the piece of garbage 715 I won in a raffle that I finally had to give away to someone that wanted to spend $$ on it to make it not FTE and FTF…..I’ll never give anyone with the last name Mossberg another dollar after this idiotic attempt to make pennies on the dollar for someone else’s work.

  20. This doesn’t yet mean that the Mossberg patent is invalidated, only that they must overcome the rejection to have any patent rights, which might well be narrowed to the point of worthlessness. That will be months at soonest, and the 12 trigger companies are now under a cloud on a patent that essentially does not exist (but might in the future).

    I don’t blame CMC for selling Mossberg a potentially worthless patent (unless they know about the prior art and failed to disclose it, but I have no reason to believe that happened). The buyer is responsible for doing their diligence. Presuming this patent sold for over a million dollars, a buyer should invest in due diligence to learn whether there might be killer prior art out not considered by the examiner, that would invalidate the patent.

    I’ll predict that when this reexam is resolved that the dozen trigger companies will be able to go on making their products without paying Mossberg a royalty.

  21. So, is Mossberg playing Patent Troll, or did they actually successfully market this ideal before anyone else? I wonder if the firearms industry will do what the high tech industry does: Patent everything and counter sue opponents into oblivion..

  22. I must be missing something. Why is everyone pissed off at Mossberg? They bought the rights to a patent. They paid money for the rights to a patent that was already awarded. They enforced those rights in the only legal way they could. Why is Mossberg the bad guy here?

    • I’m mad at them because I think they bought the patent with the intent of profiting by extorting money from their competition. Can you think of another reason?

      • Yes. They may have wanted to use that feature and thought it would be cheaper or have a more reliable long term supply chain to just buy it as opposed to license it themselves. A company generally wants as much control of their supply as they can get, and if this was a feature they thought they would have to have, they would seek to own it instead of license it. This is an extremely common reason to purchase a license.

        • I think that’s only half of it. CMC had been griping publicly for a while (whether before or after selling the patent, I don’t know) that they felt like other drop-in trigger companies were violating the McCormick patent. I also recall many remarks where they basically positioned themselves as “the little guy” who didn’t have money to pursue patent litigation, and I would not at all put it past them to looking for a buyer for the patent who WOULD pursue said litigation. It was simply cheaper for them to pay licensing. I’d imagine on Mossberg’s end, they probably were approached by CMC with a deal they couldn’t refuse similar to the hypothetical you propose, and figured they could recoup costs by pursuing said litigation. It’s all speculation on my end though.
          I don’t really have anything against Mossberg for pursuing this. As I’ve said elsewhere in other related posts, I’m not totally sold that they have a solid claim, but it seems reasonable enough that I think it’s worthy of getting settled in court. I think both Mossberg and CMC have been a little tone-deaf in how they’ve handled PR, but not everything can get passed through a lawyer or publicist first.

  23. You never buy a used condom and that’s what Mossberg did. Then they tried to put it on and found out it was all gooey and yucky and had been used by just about everybody else but them. This is called a failure of due diligence. Nothing more. Mossberg got what they deserve: A big sandbox for them to go beat up all by themselves.

    • “You never buy a used condom” – Well duh, but if one is just laying around, windex that thing, turn it inside out, and vwala! Trust me, I’m a medic. Although I think I’ve lost the metaphor in there somewhere.

  24. Amazed at the number of people that can decide that a patent is frivolous based upon what they find online.
    1) Strong intellectual property rights are common in rich countries and uncommon in poor ones, #notacoincidence
    2) We have a process (well over 100 years old) for awarding patents and settling patent disputes.
    3) The courts are going to decide this issue – not Internet lawyers.

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