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(This is a re-write of a post that appeared earlier today.)

That’s one of Brownells’ series of ‘Dream Guns‘ (above), highly customized, one-off project guns Brownells gins up as examples of what’s possible if you want to put some money, time and love into your stock pistol. They use these as come-ons for trade shows and such, as attractions to get passers by to stop and check out their wares. Their latest effort, a Smith & Wesson M&P, wasn’t well received by the venerable Springfield gun maker . . .

They had their IP attorneys send a love letter to Brownells and the other aftermarket companies who collaborated on the M&P Dream gun.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.51.57 PM

As you can see, SSVI, one of the recipients, wasn’t thrilled to hear that as far as Smith is concerned, the project gun had violated Smith & Wesson’s intellectual property rights. As SSVI so eloquently put it, “@smithwessoncorp shall decide what you, the end user, can and can’t do with their products to make them more ergonomic, fix their horrid trigger system or change any part of it to suit you and your shooting/carrying style.”

That may be taking it a little far. After talking with representatives of SSVI and Apex, it’s clear that Smith isn’t trying to stop your average Joe or Jane from customizing her M&P9 to her heart’s content. They only object to the highly customized version that Brownells is displaying with the M&P logo. Is that a bit much? It would seem so. Showing a tricked out M&P would seem to benefit everyone involved, perhaps Smith most of all.

The companies on the receiving end of the cease and desist request are examining the letter and formulating a response. This may not be exactly popcorn-worthy, but should be interesting to watch. Stay tuned.

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  1. How would this be any meaningfully different from, say, Ruger going after Volquartsen for their aftermarket mods that turn the 10/22, 22/45, Mark III, etc. into “dream guns”?

  2. Is S&W really that fucking stupid they’d purposely kill free advertising? Hope they take a hit for their childish stupidity.

  3. FIRST buy a new pistol from , who? S&W.
    SECOND, trick it up to meet your customer’s needs better than S&W does.

    If you csn’t fo the second, ehy eould you or your customer EVER purchase another product from S&W???

    I have not bought a S&W product since they sold out to the Clinton Administration. Don’t miss them at all.

    • Do you buy Ruger products? Bill Ruger went into the tank too when he lobbied Congress for a ban on “large capacity” magazines.

      • Surprisingly enough H&K (of the “Because you suck, and we hate you.” fame) was one of the few big companies that defended the citizens right to own “assault weapons” and other evil accessories back in the day.

  4. In 2000, when Smith & Wesson united with Bill Clinton to instigate further gun restrictions, I agreed with the NRA to boycott them. I realize they are under new owners, but it would seem that they are none the wiser. While I own and have owned weapons from many different manufacturers, I have never owned an S&W, nor will I ever own an S&W.

    • Bill Ruger sold out too.

      “By a simple, complete and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining ‘assault rifle’ and ‘semi-automatic rifles’ is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item. A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could effectively implement these objectives.”

      — William B. Ruger

      • As I hold my Ruger SR-762, I think about what Bill Ruger has said in the past and realize that everything he stood for died with him, and that his memory is little more than a Brand Name slapped on the side of the very gun he hated.

        It is irony at its finest.

        • Correct. Furthermore, S&W went bankrupt(or iirc were purchased out of chapter 11 proceedings from the boycott), and was sold to SAF-T-HAMMER, from Tompkins plc (a British firm), in 2001.The acquisition was largely the work of Saf-T-Hammer President Bob Scott, who had left Smith & Wesson in ’99 over personal disagreement with Tomkins’ policies. After the purchase, Scott assumed presidency of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. Scott and S&W also worked hard to reach out to customers and gun-owners, saying Tompkins’s policies were misguided and outright wrong.

          Credit to Bill Ruger, he did leave a hefty chunk of change for the NRA before he kicked the bucket, but he stipulated it couldn’t be used for the legal defense fund, only the museum. Rather than outright malice or agreement with Clinton’s policies, I think Ruger was just a slimy, greedy guy who was trying to coerce the government into restricting AR-type rifles, thinking they’d leave his Mini-14 alone…doing business with the [D]evils, what could possibly go wrong…?

    • New smith’s suck the big weenie anyway. If you want to boycott them, do what I do. Buy old smith’s. They still work even at a hundred years old. And the smith factory gets nothing. And you own a piece of history, made back when smith knew what they were doing, before they got bought out by a bunch of useless suits that don’t know the difference between a hammer and a sear.

  5. Some companies do not deserve to succeed. What an asinine letter by clueless attorneys and an arrogant and equally clueless corporate officers who approved the letter.

    Hello, S&W, anybody home who understands marketing?

    • clueless corporate officers who approved the letter.

      They didn’t “approve” the letter — they demanded the attorneys to write and send it.

  6. Wow… S&W pulled a stupid move here. As a customer, this is not the kind of behavior that will endear me to them or their products.

  7. S&W has never had enough of our boycotts. Go on stevespages and see what S&W did to the manual collection. I mean, nothing wrong with trying to free themselves from liabilities in this contemporary society full of stupid litigations. But they should realize that this in itself is very bad publicity with unseen costs.

  8. The problem is they were probably using the S&W locgo. Also S&W has a “factory” custom shop. It the same if a repair shop uses a automotive company logo. I don’t think a unauthorized S&W custom shop should be able to use the factory logo.

    • If they put the S&W logo on non-S&W parts, then S&W might be forced into protecting their logo or they’d lose the right to protect it from somebody else in the future. But even that’s a bit of a gray area.

      What if I put an aftermarket trunk lid on a Mustang during crash repairs, and then put the Ford and Mustang logos on the replacement trunk lid? Nobody would consider that to be infringement.

      The other side of the argument might be that when a frame leaves the factory as S&W serial number xyz, then it is, and must always remain, S&W #xyz, no matter how the configuration is later changed.

  9. I really do like that rough, well-worn, grey look, and the added stippling that fits between the curves of the original grip. Nice.

  10. In a world ruled by aftermarket options, S&W is saying “my way or the highway” and that’s just dumb.

  11. This is like a company customizing a Ford Mustang and then Ford suing them at SEMA, but it has Ford and Mustang logos on it. Uh, the car doesn’t become something other than a Ford Mustang, even if it is customized. It’s just free advertising that your car is a perfect platform for customization and modification.

      • I’d be curious to know more about that suit. Was it in America? Was he driving the actual car and hiding the fact that it was a Ferrari, or was he driving something else and insinuating that his-non Ferrari was a legitimate Ferrari, or something else entirely?
        I can understand how if you made your POS Civic look Ferrari-like with a vinyl wrap, you’re hurting their brand. If you’re hiding your actual Ferrari with a vinyl wrap, then they can take a hike.

        • Ferrari’s have some contractual obligations when they are bought. Literally, they tell you what you can and cannotbdo with it before you buy it depending on the model.

  12. I can see what they’re thinking. Remington got into hot water because of their 700 triggers. Were the triggers broken? No, they just lacked a mechanism to stop owners from over-lightening the pull, creating dangerous hair-triggers. S&W sees a highly customized handgun being advertised as their own and is worried that some idiot will hurt themselves or someone else and blame it on the gun.

    I think they’re being a tad overcautious, but I empathize nonetheless.

    • I think you have a point there. However, I think this is mostly as case of Smith and Wesson’s lawyers (perhaps over-zealously) protecting their trademarks.

      If you don’t actively enforce a trademark, you can loose it to “genericity” when the unenforced trademark becomes widely used as a generic term. “Thermos” is an example of a famous trademark that that has been lost to genericity.

      If anything I blame Smith and Wesson for letting lawyers communicate something that should have been initially handled (if this was Smith’s first contact with Brownells) by PR people instead.

    • You need to research the facts about the remington trigger fiasco. You are not at all correct i. Your explanation of it. Smith is very up front in their paperwork that any modification voids the warranty so I believe they are covered on that end.

    • The original Walker Fire Control System trigger is a flawed design. I can explain it to you or you can search TTAG for where I’ve written up how it was flawed.

      Take this to the bank: gunsmiths for years and years have know the WFCS/700 has a flaw, and it isn’t the one you specified. The connector can float off the trigger, leaving the sear unsupported when you take the safety off. If you search TTAG for my previous write-ups on the WFCS issues, I reference the patent drawings to explain what is wrong in the design.

    • Yes, because we should wish all the firearms companies shut down because…that helps gun owners. Are you an idiot or what?

  13. I’m looking forward to seeing what other firearm manufacturer steps up with Brownell’s et. al. to showcase the customization possibilities of *their* brand guns.

  14. Taking time to formulate a response — how about F*** You And we are gonna treat this as a SLAP suit and file a counter claim.

  15. You can literally buy a glock that is made from all parts not made by glock. Never hear them complain. I like my M&P pro but come on…..

    • I have wondered about that since Lonewolf is making a non Glock “glock”. Has anyone heard any rumblings from Gaston’s company?

  16. On the opposite end of the spectrum, CZ embraced the customized guns that others made and then even added some to their product line.

    Funny that.

        • SIG fanboy here, so your comment acknowledging the perfunctory fanboyish rant made me laugh.

          It strikes me that companies that embrace the aftermarket/tuner enthusiasts generally do better than those that don’t. Hell, even Ford said, eff it, we’re making a foot stomping truck straight from the factory, voila! We give you the Raptor! Good to hear that CZ is doing their stuff right, working on convincing my best friend to buy his first handgun, and he shoots a .40 CZ 75 better than a .45 1911.

    • Shot one, only one I will. Hate the controls on ’em, even though I shot decently. Stick to SIG/Glock/HK if I ever really get jonesing for a plastic fantastic vundergun.

  17. Harley Davidson has been doing this for years, and has been known to go after even the smallest mom and pop parts re-sellers for even displaying the H-D logo…

    • Similar, but not quite the same. While the Motor Company can be a**hats sometimes, Harley doesn’t say you can’t mod their bikes with aftermarket stuff, they just go after anyone over trademark infringement, which is not as extreme as what Smith appears to be doing here, claiming the product remains “theirs” and so is unable to be modified legally even after it is sold. At least that’s how I take it.

      Now, I don’t think Smith has a leg to stand on here and it’s just scare tactics of a larger company in a bad mood picking on smaller companies.

  18. When Smith can build a gun like that Brownell’s Dream Gun, then I might consider looking at the letter as something more than jealousy. Until then, even their Performance Center is sitting around like a pouting baby.

  19. S&W can piss off. Intellectual property my ass. That went out the window when they sold the gun without condition. I can see the left using the Smith argument, believing they remain in control of the guns they have sold, as accepting responsibility for misuse on their guns.

  20. Smith&Wesson aint the gun company of years ago, they have a team of lawyers who scour the internet for S&W related tidbits…., MHRIP, was threatened with a lawsuit if he did not remove pdf files of S&W manuals readily available on the web…any free notice is free advertising… these idiots do not see it that way…
    I own several of their predecessors revolvers and semiautomatics and one(1) of their current era M&P 45

  21. Link gone.
    S&W may have lost a customer. I was in process of saving for a Shield and an M&P Compact. Go figure…

  22. Hey S&W, you know Apex Tactical? They’re a local company around here, Los Osos, friends of friends, in fact.

    Sod off dudes. (Diehard S&W wheel gunner.) I’m not buying anything else new from you.

  23. I have quite a few Smiths. Many, in fact. I won’t be getting rid of them but I will be buying Apex triggers. 🙂 And I probably won’t be buying more Smiths in the future.

    Keep in mind folks that this is just Smith’s lawyers being what they are….lawyers. That is to say, “dicks”. Unfortunately the lawyers run the company now.

  24. My husband has a Smith & Wesson 4″ SS .357 revolver, brought it long before Bill Clinton even ran for Governor. I have S&W 65 model .22lr revolver purchased long after Slick Willie left office. Both are solid handguns. Neither of us were aware of lock, but then again both weapons, were pre-lock era so……….

  25. The only thing this really does is demonstrate the idiocy going on over at S&W. If you buy a product you can modify it (note I said buy, not license such as software).

    This idea has been upheld in various forms by the Supreme Court a number of times. Now that being said, S&W doesn’t have to warranty the product or hold any liability should something with it go wrong.

    Now if they had ground S&W’s name off and placed a different name on the gun or misrepresented who the manufacturer was, there would be a case. As long as they said that they took a mp9 and modified it and as such S&W may no longer warranty it, or it is for demonstration only or so on, that is all that is needed.

    You don’t have to ask Ford before you put new bumpers on your truck, or if you want to have that mustang painted a different color…

  26. Hardware, by court ruling (Ibm clones as well as the Colt 1911 designs bare this out, as well as radioshack vs IBM microchannel computer architecture ) are ONLY intellectual property by design, the copying of said design is prohibited ONLY as far as the inherent operation is concerned. the Look can only be claimed if trademarked, The alteration of said hardware is NOT prohibited because no license is implied, the OWNERSHIP of the device is that of the individual and NOT the corporation, and the corporation has NO CLAIM that would prevent the alteration of the device other than to orphan an support for said device. So to streamline this to plain english S&W is full of Sh!t.

  27. the Apex trigger makes the 9c so much nicer to shoot. I put one in mine and don’t regret it. I like the capacity of the 9c and it also takes full size mags (with x grips) so no complaints.

  28. James Debney, President and CEO of Smith & Wesson, said, “I would like to clarify that we fully support the Brownells Dream Guns® Project and we appreciate that it showcases the many ways in which our customers – loyal fans of our M&P brand – can choose to customize their M&P firearms. Our decision to contact the companies that worked on the project was intended to protect the trademarks that support the M&P brand. When a product bears the Smith & Wesson and M&P trademarks and is purchased new with our lifetime service policy, we want to be sure that the consumer knows it has passed our demanding quality standards. In our efforts to protect that promise and to preserve the brand that we and our customers cherish, we did not fully understand the intent of the Dream Guns® Project and we overlooked the opportunity to convey our enthusiasm for the creativity and innovation that Brownells and all of the companies involved have demonstrated. We look forward to seeing the firearm on display at the upcoming SHOT Show in January and at the NRA in May.”

    • No offence meant, S&W, but all this means is that you have now realized how stupid you were for objecting to free advertising, and now have decided to back peddle as fast as possible. Its corporate SOP.
      Your attitude is still clear… When unsure, or unwilling to process the available information, THREATEN first… instead of learn.
      Sorry, but that doesn’t cut the mustard, at least not with me. I will still buy used smith’s, made back in the day before you lawyers all took over. At least, until such a time as you figure out how to make even THAT illegal. Then, I will have to settle for just mourning yet another good business gone bad…
      Its really so sad. You used to make a really good product, but those days are gone now. Oh, well. Times change, and I do my best to change with them. But that does not include buying worthless crap just because some lawyer has legally mandated that crap is now gold. I still know a turd when I smell it, no matter what label some guy hangs on it.

      • Preach!

        Reconnoiter and research before ripping heads off is generally a smart thing to do. Sure, American society is litigious AF, but just because you have lawyers doesn’t mean you give them carte blanche to do whatever they please. In fact, much like any other animal, proper discipline is key.

        It was the corporate types and lawyerly sorts at S&W that bunked up with the gun control push of the 1990s, you lost a lot by putting those damned keyholes in the sides of your wheelguns. You lost even more with this posturing stunt. Guns are durable goods, we trust those who make them well and support them in similar fashion. Only way to go with hi-ticket items. If you don’t, and play stupid games, you’ll win some stupid prizes. Look south across the border, Colt is another storied name, they played some seriously foolish games, and are collecting their prize now. You want to go that way? We can go that way.

        Not to mention, my 27-year old model 657 shows far better craftsmanship than my two-year old 627. I’ll keep hitting the internet and the used cases for the pre-shenanignans Smiths I want, because those are the embodiment of things you forgot long ago.

        • I actually didn’t mean to rip any heads off, I started off with “no offence meant.” 🙂
          I know that’s a troll’s cop out, but I truly only meant that old smith’s(meaning, say… 1940-1980) are a great firearm by comparision to the worthless junk they churn out nowadays. But, at that, smith’s are not that much worse than their competition.
          And, judging by your post, it seems like you concur.

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