There is big talk today all over social media about Smith & Wesson suing several aftermarket modification companies by name. The image below was posted on the SSVI Instagram Page this morning:
As you can see by the IG post, counsel for Smith and Wesson Corp. have explicitly written what looks to be a cease & desist letter to several well-known firearms modification companies, namely Apex Tactical Specialties, Brownells Inc., DP Custom Works LLC, Blowndeadline Custom, and SSVi LLC.
The full letter can be read/downloaded here. As you read on through the letter, it seems that Smith & Wesson have an issue with a supposed “Dream Gun” project by all parties involved. What’s interesting, and certainly counter-productive to all ill-informed arguments out there on the Internet, is that not only are they claiming trademark infringement (which I understand) but also mentions that they are “unauthorized modifications.”
From the Apex Tactical announcement:
Apex Tactical Specialties has teamed up with three of the most respected custom gun builders on a special Smith & Wesson M&P build for the Brownells Dream Guns® Project. The result of the collaboration, a one-of-a-kind M&P Pro 9mm, will be showcased in the Brownells booth (#13018) during the 2016 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
The Brownells Dream Guns® Project was started in 2011 to help feature the wide range of parts and accessories available from Brownells that customers can use to upgrade and customize their own pistols, rifles and shotguns. To date over 100 Dream Guns® have been built and are available for review at Brownells.com.
“When Brownells asked us to participate in their Dream Guns Project by submitting a custom M&P fully equipped with Apex upgrades, we decided to take it a step further and turned to a trio of custom gun builders whose collaborations are some of the most recognized and coveted among custom firearms aficionados,” explained Scott Folk, vice president of Apex.
“To give our M&P Dream Gun its one-of-a-kind look we asked Doug Presson of DP Custom Works, Mike Sigouin of Blowndeadline Custom and Damon Young of SSVI to contribute their expertise. These three have worked together on so many guns, and their work so highly regarded, that we knew they’d be the ideal partners for our Brownells build.”
It is actually quite a creative project and a good representation of what these extremely-talented customizers can do. The main issue it seems that S&W has with the project is that the firearm still bears the S&W name and trademark.
Already the fine people over on ARFCOM have expressed their malcontent with the letter in that special way that they do. While it’s easy to side with the mob, especially when the Internet pressures you to do so, we have to look at the facts here… Based on prior case law, they are not, in fact, allowed to retain the S&W trademarks on the firearm when being sold in such a manner.
Additionally, according to the letter received by SSVI and parties involved, S&W demands that:
1. Confirm in writing that neither you nor any third party will display the Infringing Product, or any similar product, at the 2016 SHOT Show or make any other commercial display or promotion of such Infringing Product;
2. Cease the sale of any firearm modified by you or any other third party that bears any Smith & Wesson trademark, including, but not limited to the S&W® Marks or the M&P® Marks; and
3. Turn over to Smith & Wesson your inventory of the Infringing Product, or any Smith & Wesson product modified by you in the first instance that bears any mark owned by Smith & Wesson.
Let’s check the facts one more time before I give you my editorial on it… Is S&W saying you cannot modify your firearm? No. Will S&W honor any warranties after modifications? Absolutely Not. We know these things. What S&W is saying is they don’t want any aftermarket product marketed with their logos on them. I suppose its akin to something like the Hennessey Dodge Viper.
Ok now here’s my opinion… What in the actual F$#@ Smith & Wesson. Social media can kill companies these days and you’re going to risk this on a firearm that will only promote your brand. It’s understandable that insurance claims and possible injury may occur, but to attribute this to a copyright and trademark infringement is beyond me. With that said, the fine companies who are making this dream gun have my full support. [/end rant]