View Full Version : Brownells sues midway

April 22, 2002, 07:26 AM

Jim Watson
April 22, 2002, 08:32 AM
Well, that is just petty and nasty.
Brownells is (nearly) the only game in town but my FLG says they have been going downhill since Mr Brownell Sr died and the kid took over.

April 22, 2002, 10:07 AM
To receive a FREE copy of the MidwayUSA Affordable Gunsmithing Catalog -- the catalog that caused this lawsuit, click here, or call our toll-free number. If you want Brownells catalog, you will need to pay them $5.00 and also pay for the call, they don't provide a 1-800 number for their Customers.

No mention that Brownells have no minimum order and a flat shipping charge of $6.75.

Jim, Brownells still has the best customer service in the business - I called recently to ask for the sizes of a item to see if it would fit an older rifle, the tech line person had someone pull the item from the shelf and measure it for me while I was still on the telephone, try doing this at another supplier.

I now recommend http://www.grafs.com for items Brownells do not carry.



Brett Bellmore
April 22, 2002, 11:44 AM
Might have the best customer service in the industry, (Donno, I've never dealt with them.) but that certainly IS a frivolous lawsuit, if I've ever seen one. "Your catalog's the same shape as ours!" :rolleyes:

April 22, 2002, 11:44 AM
Frivolous lawsuit, Brownell's should be ashamed. I expect the courts will throw this one out. Otherwise, Sears could sue J.C. Penny's because they have similar catalogs that advertise similar items.

James K
April 22, 2002, 05:50 PM
Maybe not too frivolous. I can't help wondering if Midway chose that format specifically to promote confusion and get customers to order from their catlog thinking they were ordering from Brownell's. It doesn't seem to be the format one would instinctively think of for a catalog.


April 22, 2002, 08:04 PM
I don't know anything about the lawsuit but I have been doing business with Brownell's for about 15 years and their customer service is second to none....period!

One time in the fall, the busiest time, an order got lost in the mail, I called them on it and the next day they sent a full replacement 2nd day air!! No extra charge...

When the original finally showed up, I sent it back unopened..

I've yet to pay for a catalog and their website is great... There is no need to pay for any phone calls, you can order on the web.

April 22, 2002, 08:56 PM
I have had nothing but top notch service from both.....

If you were designing a catalog.....you wouldnt make it similar to the industry standard....so you are gonna make a gunsmith catalog...and it wouldnt make sense for it to be similar to one that EVERY smith has had for years?

Its a joke of a lawsuit. I'll be VERY surprised if its even heard.

BTW...seems to me the same mentality of cities suing gunmakers....makes lawyers lots of cash....doesnt do anyone any good though.

If anything Brownells at the very least has made a move that may well tarnish its image....it has for me.


J.R. Bob Dobbs
April 22, 2002, 09:27 PM
I've been 100% satisfyed with all my dealings with Brownells. Their online ordering and tracking system is top notch. The catalog is even better; my toes often go numb ;)

Mike Irwin
April 22, 2002, 09:53 PM
Actually, it will be heard.

Sorry, but Brownell's has what appears to be a valid complaint here.

There are a number of things that a court would look at in a suit like this, including possible confusion potential (the reasonable person test), structural similarity, potential for dilution of the effect of the "standard," etc.

Essentially the courts tend to look at two things:

1. Is the item in question designed so as to mimic the style, function, feel, etc., of the plaintiff's item, and

2. If so, could this mimicing engender confusion among consumers?

If both are found to be true, relief will probably be granted. Even if only one is found to be true, partial relief can be granted.

A good case in point.

A number of years ago a company trying to break into the market for dry cleaning machine filter pads started producing pads stamped with their name, and made in a particular shade of green.

Only problem was, that shade of green had been used by the leader in the field for many years.

The leader in the field sued, contending that adoption of that specific color was done solely in an attempt to ride on the success of the leader's pads and take advantage of the confusion that would be created among consumers.

The new company, of course, contended that color isn't trademarkable, etc.

The courts found for the industry leader, and in doing so found that while the particular shade of green was not trademarked, did constitute part of the overall package & presentation for that manufacturer's pads, and that the new company's sole motive for selecting that color was to try to mimic the leader's product and siphon off sales through confusion.

April 23, 2002, 05:58 PM
Maybe it will be heard, maybe not. It still smacks of liberal bunk...and that is far more upsetting to em than the facts of the case. Midway is far from a start up company. Any reasonable person will never confuse the two. Reason is hardly a concern when it comes to courts these days anyhow. Funny how that works.
If Smith&Wesson had decided to sue taurus for obvious similarities in their revolver lines, you'd all be laughing as hard as me. Has Taurus used the Smith design at the detriment to smith....absoloutley...yet no one cries foul. And any suit that would be brought would be laughed off the docket. As should this piece of mindless, liberal, socialist drivel.
I guess "Brownells" is some how above reproach. A company that is "good" can play the silly games...but S&W cant. Their "bad" and "sellouts" for playing the liberal "jump through hoops" game. Yet when another company plays the game its OK. To tell you the truth I order a hell of alot more from Midway than I do Brownells. I can live without the full retail price on williams peep sights, not sure I can do without more dies, brass and bulk cast bullets though. YMMV

Dark Knight

Mike Irwin
April 23, 2002, 10:51 PM
Oh come OFF it DarkKnight, this is NOT the evil screaming hordes of Liberal Socialist streaming down in an effort to crush the legions of pure and good.

You can't even begin to put it in that terminology.

You want to know what this is?

It's CAPITALISM in action, good, pure, AMERICAN capitalism.

It's one independent company suing another independent company over market share protection.

Want to know something?

Smith & Wesson did this VERY SAME THING back in the 1920s. It sued companies that were importing copies of Smith & Wesson revolvers for copyright, trademark, and design infringement.

Smith & Wesson won, collected monetary damages from the importing agents, and won an injunction forbidding the importation of foreign copies of S&W revolvers for many years.

Taurus? It had an operating agreement with Smith & Wesson over the designs, just as Taurus has an operating agreement with Beretta over the designs of its semi-automatics.

Tell me, when Glock sued Smith & Wesson a couple of years ago over the internal design of the Sigma, who was the marauding Liberal there?

Glock, for protecting its intellectual property, or Smith & Wesson, for daring to copy it?

This sort of action is FAR from uncommon in the business world.

And that's what it's about. Business, and the pursuit of the dollar.

I've got a copy of Midway's catalog coming. I'm interested in seeing what the fuss is about.

But, just from looking at it on-line, my gut feeling is that Brownell's could make a pretty convincing case based on the elements that are described, and for a number of reasons.

So, what does that make me?



Or perhaps even retro Communist?

April 24, 2002, 05:55 AM
Then Petersen's Handguns should sue American Hangunner, magazines of the same size and general shape, same glossy paper, color photographs, competing for the same market.

April 24, 2002, 08:50 AM
Hello stans,

The basis of the lawsuit is that Brownells catalog is not a standard size or format. Midway already have a standard format retail magazine why did the feel that they needed to change from that to a format only previous associated with one of the leaders in the gunsmith market? Hence the lawsuit.



Mike Irwin
April 24, 2002, 12:00 PM

Thank you. You just got to the heart of the matter.

Midway's new catalog breaks with their "traditional" catalog format, and copies elements that have successfully been used by their major competitor for many years. Brownell's correctly, I believe, infers that the intent of this move was to horn in on the success of their catalog by copying its feel and features.


Not even close to an issue. A magazine is, on its face, significantly different from a catalog that is designed to do one thing and one thing alone -- serve a vehicle for the sale of products and/or services.

Similar lawsuits have, however, been raised in the past when one magazine copies certain design elements -- layout may or may not be a design element -- from a competitor in the same market. The designs can be held to be intellectual property of the first magazine -- in other words, artwork.

April 24, 2002, 05:39 PM
JRbob, that was funny! My toes often go knumb!:D

4 Eyed Six Shooter
April 24, 2002, 08:09 PM
After reading all of the threads, in my opinion Midway should change their catalog and be done with the entire mess. Brownells is a steller company and has always given me great service. I have done business with both companys and have found Brownells customer service to be by far the best of the two. I am sure that Brownells does not like the compitition from Midway. Midway does have better prices on some gunsmithing tools, but unless there is a big, big difference I will continue giving my business to Brownells. Midway does not offer the tech support that Brownells does and to a working gunsmith the support is worth much more than a few bucks. None of Midways other catalogs are the size and layout of the Brownells catalog. That tells me right there what the intent was. If Brownells has gone downhill since the founding fathers death, I sure havn't seen it.
Good Shooting to all, Kaelberer's Gunsmithing

April 24, 2002, 09:42 PM
Smith & Wesson was suing infringers of their patents as early as 1857. Mulitple copiers have felt their wrath over the years.


Steve Smith
April 25, 2002, 01:29 PM
I hate to see one gun related company working over another gun related company no matter what the basis is.

Higher prices for all of us, and weaker companies to boot!

April 25, 2002, 02:02 PM
The catalog format makes more sense to me than the traditional one simply because it's better when working on a limited space work bench. A traditional catalog takes up more vertical space, while the other format allows you to have the broken part right in front of you, while paging through...

Just my two cents.


Alex Johnson
April 25, 2002, 02:44 PM
Never ordered from Midway, but I've ordered plenty from Brownells and there customer service was fine. When I was just getting started in engraving I talked to one of the people in their technical shop at some length over the style of engraver that would best suite me, he sold me one of their Ngravers rather than the pricey gravermeister and I've been perfectly satisfied with it.

April 25, 2002, 05:09 PM
Both are excellent companies worthy of our patronage. I buy a lot more from Brownells, especially since I get dealer cost, all I had to do was ask. Brownells sends me a free catalog every year, they don't have a toll free line but that's no big deal since long distance is only 5 or 10 cents a minute anyway if you buy it right.

There is a ton of unique stuff in the Brownells catalog that that hard (or impossible) to find anywhere else. That's the one thing they have (or had) over Midway. Most everything from Midway can be bought for less at Midsouth, D&R, Natchez, etc. Midway does have some good deals on their Sale pages from time to time.

Since someone gave a link to Midway, here's one to Brownells: Get A Catalog. (http://www.brownells.com/GetACatalog/getacatalog.asp)

Sure, it's five bucks but they refund the money with your first purchase, so it's basically free cuz I guarantee there will be something you'll want to buy.

Bottom line is this is probably a good thing since the competition should result in lower prices to consumers (that's us!) -- Kernel

Jeff, CA
April 25, 2002, 05:37 PM
On the one hand, Brownells may have a case, for the reasons Mike Irwin cited.

On the other hand, I do know how to read.

Doesn't Brownells' case hinge on defining a "reasonable person" as, quite frankly, a moron who can't tell the difference?

Case in point: my local off-brand cola comes in bold red cans with white print. However, they say "Safeway Select", not "Coca-Cola". What's hard about that?

Mike Irwin
April 26, 2002, 08:47 PM

The reasonable person test is not predicated solely on the ability to read. We identify items and objects based on a LOT more than just reading -- shape and other design elements constitute a big part of that, as well.

I just got my copy of the Midway book in the mail.

Quite frankly, I'd say Brownell's has a legitimate complaint, but at the same time I'd say that things might be different enough that a court could find that there is no problem.

It's a toss up, but in my opinion, Midway is REALLY coming close to the line.

As for the Safeway Select (other than the fact that it STINKS), I'd say that if Safeway copied, or came close to copying, the same type of script lettering that you find on Coke they'd be facing a lawsuit.