Originally Posted by MaciekA
This thread is in extreme danger of going way off course.
Guys, care to redirect your direction to the possibility that this potentially cuts the market off from even "SCAR-like
" rifles ? Has anyone checked to see if FN actually has a design patent on the shape and overall visual aesthetics of the SCAR?
That's what's at issue here. I respectfully encourage any folks who want to debate Apple's design patents or SCO vs IBM on the off-topic forum, or on Reddit / HN / Groklaw / etc
We're primarily interested in airsoft here.
FN has trade dress rights to the outline of their more recent releases including the SCAR. I think the FAL predates certain aspects of trademark law, or at least predates the common practice of firearms industry to apply for trade dress exclusivity. Some years ago, I was looking at SystemA's TW5 (MP5 replica) when a couple reps from Brugger and Thomet happened by. B&T are licensed manufacturers of H&K designed firearms. They delivered the happy news that SystemA's new MP5 model was not covered under trade dress exclusivity, but the term MP5 was. SystemA promptly complied by not referring to their product as a MP5. They were quite relieved to find that their tools and dies weren't going to be turned into boat anchors.
Firearms industry are becoming increasingly aware that their work is attracting interest from airsoft manufacturers as well as real steel copyshops like Norinco. While patents are a useful way to protect the mechanisms inside a firearm, there are quite a lot of accumulated prior art patents which have expired. I think it is becoming increasingly more difficult to protect one's engineering under patent law because of this so I get the feeling that manufacturers are going to find trade dress protection the only remaining way to retain any IP on new gun designs. The weird thing is that trade dress has no expiry date (I think). Also, it is supposed to cover design features which are not practical, but one could argue that the general shape of guns is largely due to ergonomic considerations and therefore should not be covered by trade dress law.