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.