Framelock Patent Dispute in the US KAI USA LTD, Microtech Knives Inc.
Normally, the international mess scene after the Bladeshow farewell in the summer break. While the winners celebrate and market their success models, the losers silently lick their wounds. In contrast to the last years, 2016 does not want to be a summer break yet. A new patent dispute broke out between two major players in the industry. This time it is not about the color magenta or contentious advertising, but a special Framelock variant.
In the summer, new developments and major events are mostly shortages, but this summer the summer hole seems to be either too late or completely out of date. Actually, a report about the numerous "mid-season" new releases of CRKT, Spyderco, Rick Hinderer and other manufacturers was planned, when suddenly a Breaking News comes: patent disputes and a warning from KAI USA LTD in the direction of Microtech Knives. Kabale instead of love or just the defense of a justified claim?
Already at the end of May so-called "well-informed circles" rumored that KAI USA LTD warned its competitor Microtech Knives because of infringement of patent rights. The warning is a violation of the " US Sub-Framelock" patent granted to KAI USA LTD in 2015. Already before the Bladeshow the warning was given. This was evident in Atlanta, because some of Microtech's meter models, which are challenged in the warning, were not on display at the Blade Show 2016. These include so popular microtech folders such as the DOC , the whale shark , and the Socom Delta as well as some Marfione Customs.
Parallel to the warning of Microtech Knives, several large dealers were also asked to discontinue the sale of the models in question and to discontinue them by 01 August 2016. Even knives from other manufacturers show some of the patent-protected properties. It is still unclear whether other manufacturers have been warned, or other warnings are planned, in addition to Microtech Knives.
A framelock variant is described under the patent number US Pat. No. 9.120.234, in which the grip shell or frame and the lock bar consist of two separate parts. The handle has a recess in this framelock into which a part of the lockbar is fitted, so it bears the name "Sub-Framelock". The patent application states:
A folding knife, a blade, a blade, a blade, a blade, a blade, a blade, a blade, a blade and a blade. The lockbar and the handle are separate pieces. The handle includes a pocket.
(A folding knife with handle, a blade attached to the blade, and a locking rod which fixes the blade in an open position relative to the handle.) The handlebar and the handle are made of separate components Of the locking bar.)
KAI USA LTD presented this technical solution for the first time with a knife from its subsidiary Zero Tolerance. The 2011 BladeShow winner ZT 0777 had a suitably designed Framelock. Further models with this lock are currently only available from Kershaw (Kershaw Knockout) but the new ZT 427 will probably have a further variant of the "Sub-Framelock".
The detailed technical description is distributed to 20 paragraphs, which can be seen in the patent.
US Patent Office: Patent 9,120,234
The atmosphere between KAI USA LTD and Microtech Knives has been poisoned for several years, which is why some observers suspect a regular feud or even a small act of revenge. The fact is, since Microtech introduced its Matrix model in 2012 , the table cloth between both manufacturers is considered to be cut up. Only one year after the ZT 0777 was voted best knife of the year at the Blade Show, KAI USA Ltd. The great technical similarity as the thinnest copy, and the temporal proximity as an additional affront.
Not only the locking mechanism of the matrix but the knife as a whole has a striking similarity with the ZT 0777. Although Zero Tolerance took the ZT 0777 off the market as early as 2013 because of "unsatisfactory sales figures", the technical principle of the Sub-Framelock had already patented in 2012. Thomas Welk rejects the rumor of a feud and states: " Our decision to defend this patent has nothing to do with a particular manufacturer . We have put a lot of work and energy into this new development and laboriously worked on a patent. "Should it prove that Microtech Knives was the only company to be warned, this could be considered as a hint,