Smart Parts was completely legally entitled to file a patent lawsuit and a cease and desist over an electrically triggered paintball marker. The original 4x4 Shocker design was legally used by Smart Parts from the company Pneuventures in 1995-1997, and featured a dual pneumatic solenoid firing mechanism. Smart Parts then obtained the rights to the design and independently manufactured them. The original patent for a pneumatic solenoid was issued in 1990 to Beta Manufacturing Company, but Pneuventures was the first company though to incorporate the valve in a paintball marker application. The design was originally made for Smart Parts exclusively. After obtaining the rights to the design in 1997, Smart Parts recognized the value of this and filed for a patent for the right to exclusively manufacture solenoid fired paintball markers. After seeing the success of the Shocker, other new companies started mimicking the design in their own markers, either as a complete marker system, or as a modification for an existing marker. The purpose of a patent is to protect inventors’ right to exclusively manufacture their inventions, and is a constitutional right. It gives incentive to people to innovate and create new ways of doing things. Without patents, a possible inventor would have no motivation of creating new products, since already established companies would benefit more than the inventor. With that said, Smart Parts had a new, better way of doing something –firing a paintball marker- , and patented it to obtain their constitutional rights and protect their products from competitors for the prescribed 20 years. Problems arose though, when other companies used Smart Parts’ patented technology without consulting Smart Parts. In response to these companies, and the profit they were losing as a result, Smart Parts filed a patent lawsuit, and a cease and desist against other companies from building solenoid fired, or electropneumatic markers. Some fledgling companies, which had based all of their designs on the solenoid, and had limited resources, were effectively killed by this. Other companies survived, but were hurt. In many peoples’ eyes, Smart Parts shouldn’t have sued, since it was being greedy. However, Smart Parts was completely entitled to protect the rights that their patent granted them. Even if the patent hadn’t covered the other companies’ designs, Smart Parts had the right to see if a judge would agree with Smart Parts. While it is unfortunate that some smaller companies were eliminated, that’s the way that a free market operates. Just look at Walmart, killing all the poor local grocers.
This post has been edited by MillardFlemming: 20 June 2007 - 09:56 PM