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FIREClean courtesy

This has been a bad week for FireClean. For those who haven’t been following the kerfuffle, a blogger named Andrew Tuohy published an analysis of FireClean which showed it was chemically similar to other vegetable oils. This led to others taking the analysis further and declaring FireClean to be simply re-bottled Crisco cooking oil. FireClean didn’t take this well and filed a lawsuit against Tuohy claiming that he and others conspired to publish a misleading test in an effort to slander the product. That doesn’t seem to have gone well.

About a week ago the judge in the defamation case officially threw it out. Here’s the summation:

Plaintiff’s theory is that Baker and Tuohy conspired to publish a test that would show FIREClean is the same as Crisco or canola oil, even though they knew the test was inadequate to reach that conclusion, so as to attract more viewers to their blogs. Although such a conspiracy is logically possible, it is not plausible based on the facts in this record. The foundation of Plaintiff’s theory is that a critical review of FIREClean would attract more readers to the blogs. Criticisms of FIREClean being Crisco, however, were already commonplace online due to earlier published statements in the Vuurwapen blog, the Firearm blog, and George Fennell’s publications, among others. The Court finds no reason to conclude that an article affirming the prior tests would attract more readers than results disputing the prior test results.

Furthermore, the record is replete with facts providing non-conspiratorial explanations for why Baker chose the Infrared Spectroscopy and NMR Spectroscopy to analyze FIREClean, including the advice of his professors, his personal research on the best testing methods, his available equipment, and the methods that two individuals with doctorates in chemistry used to test FIREClean. In sum, it does not plausibly or fairly follow from the facts alleged that Baker and Tuohy had a preconceived plan to conduct a fraudulent test so as attract more readers to their blogs by declaring FIREclean to be Crisco.

It was plainly visible for anyone on the outside that this was a frivolous lawsuit. The accusation sounded like the paranoid ramblings of a conspiracy theorist. Their handling of the situation (trying to paint Tuohy as a wealthy villain trying to bring down a tiny company in press releases) backfired. Instead, people were more than happy to believe that they were watching as a wealthy company tried to use their money to silence a member of the media for publishing something unflattering.

The court case was dismissed “without prejudice” meaning that FireClean is able to re-file and try again, and their statements make it seem like they will do exactly that. The question is whether their company will be around long enough for that to happen.

FireClean’s formula for their firearms lubricant has been “patent pending,” meaning that they have submitted a patent application but have not been issued an actual patent. Our sources have provided some documentation indicating that they might want to change the “pending” to “rejected.”

The notice of rejection isn’t final yet, so FireClean has some time to respond. Patent applications often go through multiple rounds with the PTO examiners before it is finally accepted as novel and patent-able, with the inventor needing to illustrate how the PTO examiners are wrong. That said, the objections that the PTO raises seem to be significant hurdles to FireClean ever getting that final patent approved.

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  1. Now I kind of want to see what happens if you clean a gun with canola oil…

    The smoke point is around 400F.

    • Maybe try avocado oil; its smoke point is around 520F.

      (Insert guacamole joke of your choice here.)

    • Canola oil is a breed of rapeseed oil. Rapeseed was used a lubricant till the end of World War 2 causing a crash for demand, which caused the growing industry to create canola oil (it’s had an enzyme that made it unsuitable for cooking bred out) so they could sell it as a cooking oil.

      Given its history, unless that enzyme was super important to its use as a lubracant it seems logical it should function about as well as lube used during the World Wars given that’s what was used.

    • Pesonally, . . . rather than Crisco or Canola, . . . I’d just as soon use some strained bacon grease.

      Nothing smells better in the morning than frying bacon, . . . and a properly heated up M14, M1, M1A, . . . should bring that rich and warm smell out on the firing line.

      Heck, . . . might even get some of your competition to getting to salivate on the smell, . . . forget their shooting.

      May God bless,

  2. With liberty and justice for all…note to re-packagers…don’t take on the internet.

  3. All for some gun lube that thousands of other manufacturers already make in a world of chemical companies that control every aspect….. no thanks….

    Like trying to patent bottled water….

  4. If I’m reading the rejection letter correctly, and I’m not at all sure that I am, then it looks like the formula for Fireclean is as follows as found on pages 3 and 4:

    40% Coconut oil
    20% Sunflower oil
    40% Methyl ricinoleate (obtained from Castor oil)

      • Eh, you might want to go easy on eating Methyl ricinoleate (obtained from Castor oil).

        Castor oil is an effective *laxative*.

        So keep a clean pair of undies handy, if you know what I mean? 🙂

        • Geoff
          Many World War One planes were powered by Rotary Engines. The crank shaft was fixed, and the cylinders rotated with the propeller. They were two-cycle engines, and the two cycle oil used was Castor Oil. Flying behind one of those engines breathing the fumes had about the same effect on the pilots digestive tract as taking several spoonfuls of Castor Oil. Supposedly Elderberry brandy helped counteract the effects.

  5. Definitely serves ’em right on the lawsuit.

    On the patent, it is pretty common to have claims rejected on the initial application. Reviewing the USPTO letter, some of those rejections were simply due to formatting or confusion. But the meat of the rejections really do seem to cut to the core of the novelty of FireClean as a patentable invention.

    I’m the co-inventor of several devices and methods, and have had to respond to the rejection of claims, where the patent examiner incorrectly made assumptions about prior art. I (and our patent attorney) were able to prevail and convince the PE to change his mind, but you need a really solid case to do that. It doesn’t appear that FireClean will be able to do that.

  6. I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but why did the two correspondents (no one is a “defendant” in a civil case) not just engage Crisco or other vegetable oil company to do a (paid for) analysis of Fire Clean? It is likely food producers know the chemical compound for their product. There are also any number of truly independent research labs that could do the tests. Seems the matter is beyond amateur lab groupies, and now important to verify the chemicals as proof no conspiracy exists.

  7. Bankruptcy soon to follow, no doubt. I think this lawsuit was just a cynical “Hail Mary” to try to get a few bucks before closing up shop. Their sales figures have got to be in the toilet after all this.

    • Irrespective of product performance, FIREClean has not handled the optics of this well. Had they abstained from an indignant reaction and the associated emotional content, and instead, viewed it in the abstract, they probably wouldn’t be mired in the PR nightmare they’re currently entangled in. Responding with “he started it” is as juvenile as it sounds. Truth or not, their reaction intimated that their detractors were on to something, and may have credibility on some level. This entire situation was mismanaged by FIREClean, and even if they prevail in the courtroom, they may have irreparably damaged their brand equity, and lost the only battle that really mattered.

  8. Note to anyone who was upset that Fireclean turned out to be Crisco: don’t worry about it. Not only is Fireclean not amazing, but no other product in the world is anything special for lubricating your guns. The truth is they all work. Also true is that pretty much any oil will work good on your guns. Or snot from your nose. Or nothing at all. Guns pretty much just work. When your Fireclean container is empty, buy a quart of Mobil 1 and refill the container from it. Chances are you will never have to buy gun oil again in your lifetime.

    • When a lubricant gets a few months of sitting on the metal and turns into a sticky, natural, mess…then that is a problem. Welcome to…FireClean!

  9. The funny thing is that canola oil is a perfectly fine lubricant. They should just admit to it.

  10. What I find damning is FireClean’s response. They make good arguments for why it cannot be pure canola oil. They repeatedly and emphatically claim it’s not just a single vegetable oil, but they carefully avoid the question of whether it’s just a blend of commonly available vegetable oils.

  11. I will pee into small bottles and sell it as WonderJuice for the low low price of 29.99. The lines are forming now.

  12. More shooting, less cleaning.
    That should be everyone’s mindset.
    Hilarious how some proudly claim they deep clean everything after every short range trip.
    Do they change oil and wash the car after every errand? Lol

    • I used to clean after every range trip, because that’s what Otis says to do. Then I got lazy, and asked around. Now I just field strip, wipe, and reassemble.
      Exception: My EDC piece gets a full clean after every trip, and a field strip weekly whether it needs it or not.

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