Press Statement: CR223 Patent Case

On December 30, 2022, the 15th Civil Senate of the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Düsseldorf ruled that C.G. Haenel's (Haenel) CR223 rifle infringes a patent held by Heckler & Koch and may consequently no longer be manufactured or distributed in Germany. This decision rejected Haenel's appeal against the first-instance decision of the Regional Court (LG) in Düsseldorf from November 16, 2021. The court found that a Heckler & Koch patent for the design of a recoil spring tube, which is provided with holes so that water can drain from the tube quickly, had been infringed.

Based on the press release of the OLG Düsseldorf, the media reported that Haenel was obliged to destroy all CR223 rifles still in the company's possession due to the established patent infringement and to request customers to return already delivered rifles in return for a compensation payment. Speculations have been made in the media as to whether, how and at what cost a return of said rifles by the police forces of Saxony and Hamburg, for example, could be managed. Without question, this reporting has led to uncertainty among our customers.

Since the reporting presents the facts in a way that is misleading and incomprehensible to the public, Haenel would like to explain the situation in more detail below:

Most of the CR223 rifles currently in use are not affected by the ruling and are therefore in no need to be recalled. With a few exceptions, both the Saxony and Hamburg police forces use a CR223 model that was manufactured as of April 2018 and has an altered version of the recoil spring tube which does not have the said holes that the LG and now the OLG have ruled on.

  • In February 2018, Heckler & Koch had issued a warning to our company for an alleged patent infringement by the then CR223 model. Up to that point, Haenel was not aware of Heckler & Koch's asserted patent.
  • Following this, Haenel immediately commissioned a patent attorney to check the patent. It was found that the recoil spring tube had holes in accordance with the Heckler & Koch patent.
  • To circumvent any possible patent disputes, Haenel immediately changed the design of the recoil spring tube of the CR223 to not have said holes for water drainage, as early as April 2018. This decision was, moreover, immediately and transparently communicated to Heckler & Koch.
  • The matter remained unaddressed by Heckler & Koch for the next two years. Attempts by Haenel to bring about a final clarification were rejected by Heckler & Koch,
  • The alleged patent infringement by the CR223, in the version as admonished in February 2018, was only raised again by Heckler & Koch after Haenel was awarded the tender for the new standard assault rifle of the German armed forces in September 2020. In the tender, Haenel had successfully prevailed against competitors such as Heckler & Koch with its MK556 rifle model.
  • It must be emphasized that the accusation of an alleged patent infringement as part of the MK556 discussion never concerned the MK556 model itself, but rather only ever the version of the CR223 available before April 2018. The MK556 was equipped with a different recoil spring tube (without holes). Additionally to this, the version of the CR223 model from February 2018 was no longer available by that time.

Previous media coverage suggests that all CR223 rifles in use must be returned by the police forces of Saxony and Hamburg for reimbursement. This information is false, as the ruling only affects the version of the CR223 that was delivered before April 2018. The current CR223 model used by the police forces were manufactured after April 2018 (with few exceptions) with no patent infringement having been committed.

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