DÜSSELDORF, Germany -(Ammoland.com)- A German court has ordered C.G. Haenel, a child company of Caracal, to recall and destroy all CR223 rifles. The company also is prohibited from manufacturing or selling the gun.
The order came after Haenel lost an appeal to a 2021 patent infringement case launched by Heckler & Koch. In the Düsseldorf Regional Court, HK’s lawyers argued that Haenel had infringed on patent EP 2 018 508 B1. The patent covers the breech design of HK’s 416 and 417 rifles. The breech allows water to drain from the action, allowing the firearm to fire even after the gun has been completely submerged in water. The court found that HK proved its accusation that Haenel ripped off their design. Haenel immediately appealed the court’s decision to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.
On December 30, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled against Haenel and ordered the company to recall every CR223 in circulation and destroy all firearms. The court decision comes on the heels of a September court ruling in the German Federal Patent Court that also found that Haenel violated HK’s patent. HK sued Haenel after the company narrowly beat out HK for a German military contract to replace the aging HK G36.
The Haenel MK556, the military select-fire version of the CR223, beat the HK 416 for a German military contract.
Haenel claimed that the HK patent was invalid because it was a solution to a problem and was not new and innovative. The German military has now revoked the contract.
The court stated: “The patent in suit concerns a weapon breech system for firearms and relates to the problem of liquids penetrating weapons. In a statement of claim dated December 9, 2020, the plaintiff filed an action for nullity and asserted that the patent was inadmissibly extended compared to the original application and not patentable because the solution found to the problem and protected was not new and innovative.”
The MK556 is not named in the case but does use the same breech as the CR223. The firearm is imported into the United States by B&T and sold as the B&T BT-15. Several other Haenel firearms use the same breech design. The company hasn’t unveiled how it plans to recall all CR223 rifles.
As of this writing, the B&T BT-15 is still for sale on various websites. […and will likey become a collector’s item.] The German court order doesn’t seem to limit the recall to Europe. It also doesn’t specify if the guns can be destroyed in a foreign country, but Haenel will have to prove to HK that the guns have been destroyed. The company also must provide HK with all accounting records of profits from selling the CR223 rifles. HK can use this financial information to seek further damages from Haenel.
American companies are under no legal obligation to return the firearms to Haenel. The recall and the halt to production will have an interesting effect on the market. Guns that leave the market see their value skyrocket to collectors who will scoop them before the supply dries up. The B&T BT-15 sells for north of $3000, leaving many questioning if even collectors are willing to pay much more for an AR-15-like model. Although, if past trends are any indication, collectors will shell out the money for a gun that will likely never be made again.
Although the most likely outcome is the shuttering of the production of the CR223 rifle, there is still an outside chance of HK and Haenel agreeing to a licensing structure. That seems like an unlikely outcome. Remember that this might be your last chance if you are on the fence about picking up a CR223 firearm.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.