ConspicuousConsumption wrote:So I know that the Compression Lock is patented, but who designed it? Someone at Spyderco, or did they license it or something? These were questions that drove me to the US Patent Office database, which I've spent considerable time on for a master's degree course a few years ago (patent troll research). You'd be surprised over the really interesting, unique ideas companies have.If there's even a chance they'll want to put out a product or even pursue a product design, they'll apply for a patent. Spyderco has some out there in similar fashion.
Yes and no. I don't want to derail the thread but these days companies are very particular about what they submit for patent application. Once you submit it, it becomes available to the public. Keep in mind, there is a huge difference between a patent application and an issued patent. Quite often a patent application will be filed but the final patent will never be pursued as it is very expensive. They are also often denied because prior art is found by the patent office. The application will still be out there but often that is all there is.
The other and bigger issue is China. There are US patents, European patents, Japanese patents, Chinese patents, etc. Most everybody plays well together except China. A US patent is only enforceable in the US. But Google will show you all you want to know about a patent. So China routinely plagerizes these patents, especially on lower-end goods, and floods the market with them. The patent-holding company then must decide if they wish to pursue legal action if the goods are entering the patented market. Even then, the violators don't have to change too much to make a case of non-infringement.
There's a lot of very smart tech out there that companies decide to label as a Trade Secret rather than file for a patent. It grants some protection if some one else does go for a patent on the same tech but doesn't require full disclosure of the invention. Now, that's pretty hard to do on something like a lock that a competitor can easily reverse engineer.
Not only does China routinely steal patented designs, the companies are often heavily sponsored by the government. At the very least they can often absorb heavy losses in those rare cases that some one does pursue infringement and does win.
Patents aren't what they used to be and modern manufacturers are up against very hard choices. I imagine Spyderco is no exception. Buy from reputable companies and reputable distributors! Support companies you know and respect.