United States Patent & Trademark Office Upholds Validity of FirstSpear Patents

FirstSpear, LLC is pleased to announce that on November 22, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) of the United States Patent & Trademark Office rejected Crye Precision, LLC’s petitions challenging the validity of FirstSpear’s U.S. Patents related to FirstSpear’s innovations in laser-cut and laser-fused personal protective equipment (PPE) and load bearing equipment (LBE). FirstSpear’s patented technology is already in use in products purchased by and widely used by US Special Operations, the US Army, the US Marine Corps, the Department of Justice, and many of our NATO allies. The decisions of the PTAB uphold the validity of FirstSpear’s patents and find that Crye’s petitions failed to establish any reasonable likelihood of unpatentability of any of the claims of the FirstSpear patents. The decisions dismiss both of Crye’s inter partes review (IPR) petitions and reject all of Crye’s arguments attacking FirstSpear’s patents. (U.S. Pat. Nos. 9,974,379 and 9,565,922).

Crye filed the petitions in June 2019, in an apparent attempt to gain leverage over FirstSpear in patent litigation pending in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis in which Crye claimed that some of FirstSpear’s products infringe their U.S. Patent 9,173,436. The recent decisions from the PTAB clearly demonstrate what the industry has understood for years: FirstSpear pioneered and perfected many game-changing products developed around laser cut / laser fused technology, including FirstSpear’s well-established 6/12 line of vest platforms; and FirstSpear’s technology was and is unique and was appropriately and properly granted U.S. patent protection.

“It is unfortunate that Crye has chosen to waste so much time and money threatening the industry, tying up the U.S. courts and patent office, and trying to take credit for the work of others,” said FirstSpear CEO & President Scott Carver. “However, we can now fully move forward assisting the U.S. government and our industry partners in the development and fielding of the next generation of improved lightweight individual equipment to the warfighters and first responders who need it.”

FirstSpear is grateful for the PTAB’s decision upholding the validity of its patents.

17 Responses to “United States Patent & Trademark Office Upholds Validity of FirstSpear Patents”

  1. TheFull9 says:

    I know this has been going on for a good while, purely from someone at another brand bringing it up in conversation. I often wondered how many folks actually knew that two of the biggest goliaths of the industry were having a giant legal battle.

  2. Crackers says:

    Could someone explain exactly what the argument is? I’m too dumb to understand exactly what either party is claiming but I’m might curious.

    • Capt M says:

      Crye AirLite vs FirstSpear 6/12

      • crackers says:

        right. what I’m not clear on is what exactly the claims that were upheld were…If it’s the claim about laser cut holes to make a molle field in a laminate fabric, well…

        • Strike-Hold says:

          Crye has claimed for years that they have a solid patent on the idea of laser-cutting slots in Cordura and/or laminated fabrics in order to attach pouches. Apparently it was okay to cut MOLLE-compatible slots, just not to actually mount pouches to them.

          Or something like that…

          • crackers says:

            @Strike-hold thank you for the explanation.

            Yeah, considering that Natick PM-SOF had commercial samples of laser cut MOLLE slots in laminated materials that were made into plate carriers in April of 2010, it’s a bit hard for me to believe that concept could be covered by a patent application made over a year later. Now, adding loop to the back was not done in that initial work or the initial plate carriers…

  3. Roecar says:

    From some personal experience, someone’s lawyer got it into someone’s head that they could claim a patent was invalid through some prior art claim.

    • crackers says:

      Totally curious: so if a product was sold prior to a patent being filed, does that invalidate the patent? I’m no lawyer and know nothing about IP…

      • Jameson363 says:

        Not sure about US, but in Czech law you cant put protection on something what is year on the market.

      • Roecar says:

        As was explained to me by lawyers, having Prior Art greatly improves your chances to invalidate an issued patent. You will still have to have a ruling made but all and any evidence to suggest a patent was filed after something else was sold or found on the market prior, nullifies it.

  4. Lasse says:

    So this only means that FS is in the clear, and that Crye still holds a valid patent to cut laminates for load bearing purposes? Because if I remember correctly (and I cannot check the patent because I’m in China), that’s what the patent was about.

    So my question is: Can Crye still go after everyone else laser cutting laminates in countries where the patent is approved?

  5. Capt M says:

    After reading the relevant patents from both companies, I think the ruling is fair.

    It seems to me (not a lawyer) that Crye’s patent is all about cutting a grid (think lattice) all the way through a laminated piece of material for the attachment of PALS-compatible pouches. In contrast, the FIrstSpear patent covers cutting slits in a piece of (laminated) material mounted on top of a carrier, leaving a cavity between that is accessible for the purpose of mounting PALS-compatible pouches. Additionally, the back face of the top layer can have a hook and loop covering for the purposes of securing mounted pouches.

    On the face of it, they seem to be substantially different in design structure and, importantly, the specificity of the patents. However, I could be completely wrong (again, not a lawyer.)

  6. Adamn says:

    It’s actually funny to see Crye filing a patent like this. From what I remember (and I might be wrong), the first to come up with laser cut vest was a Swedish guy – Aasgard Tactical or sth like that. He showed the pics on DIY Tactcial or forums. They are now shut down, so no way to check.