ATF Part III: Firearm Patents


We’ve reached the end of our alcohol, tobacco, and firearms series of posts and we’re ending with (you guessed it): Firearms. We’ll take a look at how firearm patents perform overall at the USPTO, the largest filers, and the largest firms.

How do Firearm Applications Fare?

Class 042, aptly named “Firearms”, handles the vast majority of applications at the USPTO related to guns or other firearms. Not only are firearm applications largely clustered into one class, but that class is predominantly handled by one art unit, AU 3641.


At first blush, it may seem that patents for firearms are easier to get (perhaps reflecting America’s comparatively permissive attitudes toward private gun ownership) but let’s take a look at Art Unit 3641 overall.  While it does handle almost 97% of all firearm applications, the full title of the art unit is “Aeronautics, Agriculture, Fishing, Trapping, Vermin Destroying, Plant and Animal Husbandry, Weaponry, Nuclear Systems and License & Review”. Art Unit 3641 covers a wider swath of applications than just firearms, so let’s take a look at how firearm applications compare to both the overall allowance rate for Art Unit 3641 and the USPTO as a whole.


Thus, while Class 042 applications outperform the USPTO, their average allowance rate still trails that of Art Unit 3641 by two percentage points. Still, not too shabby.

As with any art unit, there are variations among the examiners themselves. Of the examiners in Art Unit 3641 with at least 200 disposed (allowed or abandoned) Class 042 applications, we found that allowance rates ranged from 65% to 89%.

Who are the Biggest Filers?

We took a look at the top three assignees that have filed the most applications in Class 042 and compared their allowance rates and average times to disposition.


Sturm, Ruger & Co. has an edge when it comes to allowance rate, but American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson) has the very slight edge when it comes to the time to prosecute an application to disposition.

Who are the Most Frequent Firms?

We also took a look at the top three firms that have filed the most applications in Class 042 and compared their allowance rates and average times to disposition.


Kudos to Brian S. Steinberger for his whopping 98% allowance rate and his lowest time to disposition.  If you need a patent on a firearm and you need it now, he might be the guy to call.

As we wrap up our three part series on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, we encourage you to sign up for a free demo of our products.  We use Juristat’s database of over 9 million patent applications to collect the data for these articles and we encourage all patent practitioners to learn more about using big data to enhance their prosecution practice.  


The Top Firms at the PTAB


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