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Sporting optics giant Leupold & Stevens has filed a law suit against high end competitor Nightforce, claiming that the Idaho-based company has infringed on six of their patents. The designs referenced in the suit include:

8,006,429 – Locking turret knob
8,516,736 – Locking adjustment knob for a sighting device
9,188,408 – Auto-locking adjustment device
9,170,068 – Locking adjustment device
6,816,305 – Pre-assembled pivoting lens unit
7,721,480 – Pivoting lens covers for riflescopes and the like

Here’s Leopold’s press release:

BEAVERTON, Ore.Leupold & Stevens, Inc., has filed a civil suit in the U.S. District Court of Oregon alleging patent violations by Lightforce U.S.A., doing business as Nightforce. In the suit, Leupold & Stevens, Inc., alleges that Nightforce is marketing and selling products that infringe on a variety of patents owned by Leupold & Stevens, Inc. and is seeking all available remedies.

The lawsuit is based on six patents for riflescope adjustments, internal optical mechanisms, and flip covers.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc., has been pioneering riflescope and sporting optics technology since 1947, when it developed a non-fogging riflescope charged with nitrogen. Today, Leupold® has been granted over 151 patents and design registrations in 18 countries, representing Leupold’s continued commitment to innovation and development of sports optics. For more information on Leupold products, please visit us at

Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is committed to protecting its intellectual property and the innovations developed by its engineering and design teams.

Join the discussion on Facebook,, on Twitter at or on Instagram at

Founded in Oregon more than a century ago, Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is a fifth generation, family owned company that designs, machines and assembles its riflescopes, mounting systems and tactical/Gold Ring® spotting scopes in the USA. The product lines include rifle, handgun and spotting scopes; binoculars; rangefinders; mounting systems; and optical tools, accessories and Pro Gear.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc., P.O. Box 688, Beaverton, OR 97075-0688, U.S.A.

Phone: (800) LEUPOLD or (503) 526-1400 • Fax: (503) 352-7621 •


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  1. Looks to me that most other companies are also guilty.?.? But then I have no idea of who pays license fees to whom.

  2. For Some Bloke and others, some more useful links:

    8,006,429 – Locking turret knob

    8,516,736 – Locking adjustment knob for a sighting device

    9,188,408 – Auto-locking adjustment device

    9,170,068 – Locking adjustment device

    6,816,305 – Pre-assembled pivoting lens unit

  3. Leupold has been sue happy with a variety of small companies these days. Evidently they can’t come out with optics priced cheap enough to compete in certain markets so its easier to try to sue the competition out of business.

    • You don’t know WTF you’re talking about Vitsaus, Nightforce may or may not be infringing on Leupold patents, but they’re damn sure not offering inexpensive optics to undercut the competition. Anyone with even minimal knowledge of high end optics for firearms would know that top rated Nightforce optics in the $1200 to $2000 range and up are in high demand. The only way you might have made your ignorance more obvious would be claiming Leupold can’t compete with those inexpensive Swarovski scopes either.

  4. To Curtis and Vitsaus:

    Research and development is expensive. Even things as seemingly trivial as a hinge on a lens cap can turn into a major effort, because things you don’t foresee ahead of time crop up. I can think of a number of possible issues with a hinged lens cap right off the bat, for instance.

    On the other hand, once someone demonstrates proof-of-principle, reverse-engineering something is a lot easier … especially if you decide to build it at the “90%-as-good” level, which usually costs a lot less than 90% of the price.

    It’s that extra 10% that make move optics, say, from “okay” to “outstanding,” and can take a tremendous amount of R&D to get right. In “basic” optics alone, there’s coatings, glass formulations, aspheric lens design and fabrication technologies to get that last 10% over optics that Galileo would have had available; and then add in things like making sure all of it can withstand being dropped on its head, so to speak, in the field.

    So, no, if Leupold put in the money to do the R&D to prove the idea out, I have zero problem with them both pricing to recoup their development costs, and in suing companies that infringe on their patents. We can argue whether the patent system as it stands is a good thing or a bad thing, but it does stand and companies in the market it covers, should abide by it.

    • As a semi-pro photographer, I’m familiar with optics and how the costs (prices) tend to escalate exponentially as you achieve a marginal improvement in image quality.

      I also have a pair of flip-up scope caps from a company called Butler Creek out of Overland Park, KS. Far as I know, they haven’t been sued.

      Good grief. It’s hinge. They’ve existed for several millennia. They put them on Tupperware.

      • Yes, good grief, it’s a hinge on a lens cap.

        With a spring loaded detent system, magnet closure, and a number of other things according to the patent. All little things that when taken together, probably make using it more transparent (pardon the pun) and reliable. All of which required thought, mechanical design, prototyping and testing.

        Please, go check out the patent (do a Google search on the number, the link is to a law site) and take a look for yourself.

        It’s amazing how much tech there is buried in the simple things around us, really.

      • Take a look at the patent, it’s pretty darn drilled down in its claims. If you’re infringing, it isn’t because you just slapped a hinge on a cap.

        Also, citing to Law360? Poor form, Dan. Here a link for the rest of us. I think you all can figure out how to find the other parents yourselves.

      • If you are a semi-pro photographer, you know that Nikon & Canon patent every little detail/change in their designs. They make their money from precision manufacturing AND innovative design.

        • My camera has a hinge on the memory card door.
          It’s just a hinge.
          Yeah it’s probably patented.
          I guess.

    • aspheric lens design and fabrication technologies to get that last 10% over optics that Galileo would have had available

      I have every confidence that even the crappiest optic anyone sells today is better than what Galileo had. But your main point stands.

    • We will see if the lawsuit has a genuine foundation. Recently we have seen a spate of companies suing one another and quite often the lawsuits prove to be a disaster for the plaintiff, both in the outcome and in the reaction of the public to them. It is very likely the Leupold contacted Nightforce before matters got to this point, and likely Nightforce felt they had nothing to worry about should they reach this point. Litigation is not cheap after all.

    • Sure you can. Its called a Mk6. Now go get your piggy bank out. Along with your kids, neighbors, and friends piggybanks.

      • And it is still probably cheaper than a similar Nightforce model. Nightforce is definitely “”proud of their products and their pricing reflects that pride.

  5. Sounds like Leupold may have a case of the butthurts. Their scopes are not worth the $4K price tag when others produce optics as good or better for less (Vortex HD line).

    • Vortex doesn’t make scopes. They simply buy scopes from Asian companies & slap their name on them.

      One of the reasons America is relatively rich is our good system for enforcing patents. Our innovations have led to things like this website.

      • Show me a source or you’re full of shit. The glass is from Japan. In fact their new AMD HD is 100% US made.

        • You do realize Japan is in Asia?

          It is my understanding that their Crossfire line is made in China, their mid-tier scopes are made in other parts of Asia, and their top of the line scopes are made in Japan. None of them are “Made by Vortex.”. They are “Made for Vortex.” It doesn’t mean they sell bad scopes or that they are a bad company.

          Btw- If they started making scopes in the US, great.

  6. Wait, there has got to be a politician acting like a tyrant somewhere in all this, so I can suggest they be shot!

  7. Vortex…. not made in the USA …well besides one HD AMG that starting retail list is $3399. They may have a good warranty but I know too many who have had to use that warranty. With Leupold and just so I am not called a fan boy … owned gun store for over 30 years and had one Leupold go back through the store, maybe customers have sent them in for warranty themselves but that does seem to be the way when looking at other brands and customer bring them back to us for warranty 10 years after purchase.. Just like people tend to justify their super expensive purchase, do not do the same with a scope made in China where you hand them to a customer with no conversation of price and they pick the Leupold… NOT the Vortex. I would say never but I am being conservative.

    • Nightforce makes decent scopes but they sure are proud of them. Not worth the cash at all unless you are the US government and like to spend 600 bucks for a toilet seat.

      • Nightforce also make sure dealers don’t discount. A couple of time dealers dos and boom, no scope for you.
        I hate manufacturers that enforce map. Let the dealer decide what they can make on a sale.

  8. 2 of my hunting rifles sport Leopold Vari-X II 3-9×40 scopes. Simple, affordable and rock solid. One got tossed from the scabbard of a horse who got tired of me and my gear on her back. Rifld had a cracked stock, but the scope was still dead on. I paid $200 for that scope 20 years ago.

  9. Leupold should be the minimum baseline for anybody. Great quality, yet affordable.
    But anything over $1000 I’d start looking at the really high end brands.

  10. BOOO Leupold!

    Our industry and hobby is facing an existential threat in 100 days, Instead of the industry working together to survive and fight Clinton 2, Leupold has decided every man for themselves. Leupold’s poorly timed suit isn’t any different than Bill Ruger and Smith and Wesson throwing in with Clinton 1 in passing the Assault Weapons Ban and other Gun Control efforts.

  11. Interesting when NF has a questionable reputation with how it treats employees despite what some will try and spin to you how great they are (mostly there own public relations spin). They have a track record of litigating employees and inevitably losing court cases both in the USA and Australia. False allegations, false affidavits, false claims of intellectual property is tip of the iceberg with this company. For people like Frank Galli and other fanboys to berate anyone that speaks against the brand then I can only suggest, you have not worked for the company you don’t know zip and your commentary is worth no more currency than an agenda driven teenager.

    Look at what Dr Raymond Dennis and his manager, Monika Lenniger Sherrat attempted to do to Jeff Huber. Well documented and now a precedent case in US law re a company trying to deny its responsibilities and obligations. Idaho Supreme Court awarded Mr Huber triple damages as a penalty for Lightforce/Nightforce’s conduct. They overturned previous ruling and they do not do that lightly against their own judicial peers. Just google Huber v Lightforce and read the sorry tale.

  12. Sep 2020 and it STILL continues. So to ‘some’ always thinking they know more than most it makes you wonder? NF fanboys and those in their back pockets may want to look away. Pass the popcorn for what could be one of the industry stories of the decade. Can you say retrospective loss and damages? For the legally inclined the dockets are quite the read and give a real insight as to what lies behind these brands and it is not flattering for one of them. As far as NF being USA? Oh dear. Wait until that gets before a jury.

    For the reasons stated above, the Court rules as follows:

    (1) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether claim 1 and its dependent claims are infringed is GRANTED.

    (2) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether claim 10 and its dependent claims are infringed is DENIED.

    (3) The parties’ motions for summary judgment on whether the German Publication anticipates the ‘907 patent are DENIED.

    (4) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on whether the S&B riflescope anticipates the ‘907 patent is DENIED.

    (5) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on whether the Altenheiner patent anticipates the ‘907 patent is GRANTED.
    (6) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on whether the Altenheiner patent renders the ‘907 patent obvious is DENIED.

    (7) Nightforce’s motion for summary judgment regarding the certificate of correction is DENIED.

    (8) Nightforce’s motion for summary judgment on whether claims 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 16, and 17-19 are entitled to the ‘836 Provisional filing date is DENIED.

    (9) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on whether claims 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 17-19 are entitled to ‘836 Provisional filing date is DENIED.

    (10) Leupold’s motion for summary judgment on whether claims 6 and 16 are entitled to the ‘836 Provisional filing date is GRANTED.

    (11) The parties’ motions for summary judgment based on equitable estoppel are DENIED.
    Dated this 26 day of September, 2019.

    United States District Judge

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