Update: Smith and Wesson has apologized for being legal cunts. I guess they didn’t have their lawyers on a short enough leash, which is a problem common to most companies. Glad to see they backed off.
My original article is below for preservation purposes.
For years now I’ve been contemplating buying a Smith and Wesson M&P. They’re wonderfully designed pistols. The only thing I don’t like about them is the trigger doesn’t have a tactile reset. Fortunately Apex triggers add that functionality so I need only buy one and drop it in, right? Wrong. According to Smith and Wesson making such modifications violates their precious intellectual property rights:
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.
There is a picture of the legal threat Smith and Wesson mailed to Apex, Brownells, DP Custom Works, Blowndeadline Custom, and SSVi. Although I find this entire situation ridiculous I do appreciate Smith and Wesson going out of its way to save me the money I would have otherwise dropped on one of their pistols.
I believe it’s perfectly valid to void the warranty if a customer makes a modification to a product. But threatening a lawsuit over imaginary property being violated is absurd. But this is becoming more common. John Deere already claims farmers don’t own the tractors they purchase because those tractors contain software and that software implies the entire piece of machinery is being licensed. Automotive manufacturers are also using intellectual property laws to justify preventing customers from making certain modifications to their vehicles.
What’s interesting about Smith and Wesson’s case is that it doesn’t involve software, which is the goto excuse used to claim owners don’t actually own the products they buy. Instead it’s claiming that displaying its logo on one of its own guns violates the company’s trademark. I guess anybody who modifies a Smith and Wesson firearm is supposed to file off any logos.
While I fully admit I haven’t purchased a Smith and Wesson firearm in years, the last time I did I didn’t sign any contractual agreement to remove all of the company’s logos if I modified the firearm (if such an agreement were demanded I wouldn’t have bought the gun). Since there is no cause for Smith and Wesson to claim I don’t own the pistol and I didn’t sign a contract making me responsible for removing its logos I’m curious on what grounds they plan to enforce this newfound legal power trip. Granted, I won’t have to worry about it because this kind of nonsense will ensure I take my money elsewhere.