By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
July 27, 2009
On July 7, 2009, Army Times published an article by Matt Cox (Matthew Cox) titled Army acquires rights to M4. It’s an interesting piece on the Colt M4 Carbine (Colt M4/M4A1 Carbine). However, according to one of DefenseReview’s contacts at Colt Defense, Cox’s article is…how can I put this diplomatically…not completely accurate on a few points.
Defense Review’s contact at Colt Defense sent us a point-by-point rebuttal to Cox’s article by email on July 22, 2009. The rebuttal is presented in the form of embedded parentheticals provided by Colt Defense’s legal department. The following email message contained the complete Army Times article, but we’re only publishing the relevant portion with the rebuttal. To read the full Army Times piece in its original state, click on the link above. Note: The email message below has been sanitized for OPSEC and edited for readability.
to David Crane ,
date Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 4:16 PM
subject FW: Army Times 6 July 2009
hide details Jul 22 (4 days ago) Reply
Matthew Cox’ latest article on the “Army Acquires Rights to M4” below requires clarification due to some misinformation. Provided below from our legal department in the parentheticals is clarification of those comments.
Subject: Army Times
Army acquires rights to M4 [CORRECT: Yes, it is correct because the Government's licensing rights are being expanded to include the right to compete though, if they do so, they have greater obligations to Colt, not just to pay royalties but to safeguard our entire M4 TDP that is being disclosed to those who want to compete. Previously, only those who want to make non-critical parts that are unique to the M4 had access to that part of the M4 TDP.]
By Matthew Cox <[email protected]> – Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jul 6, 2009 6:26:35 EDT
As of July 1, the Army has taken control of the design rights to the M4 carbine from its sole maker, Colt Defense LLC. Translation: With an uncertain budget looming, the service is free to give other gun companies a crack at a carbine contract. [WRONG: The Government has not taken control over the M4 design rights. The Colt M16 License and M4 Addendum, both as amended, continue in full force and effect. While the M4 Addendum now allows the Government to compete the M4 Carbine and M4 Components, the Government is still subject to the M4 Addendum's license terms and conditions that include restrictions on use and disclosure of the Colt-proprietary M4 design rights.]
The transition of ownership of the M4 technical data package marks the end of an era and Colt’s exclusive status as the only manufacturer of the M4 for the U.S. military for the past 15 years. [WRONG: There has been no transition of ownership of the M4 technical data package to the Government. As long as the Government desires to procure the M4 Carbine, it must continue to license rights to use the Licensed Technology for the M4 Carbine, including M4 Components, from Colt. The Licensed Technology comprises of: (1) Proprietary Data owned by Colt, including the M4 technical data package; (2) Improvements made and owned by Colt; and (3) intellectual property owned or controlled by Colt, pertaining to patents, copyrights and trade secrets. Colt has no interest in transferring ownership of the Licensed Technology to the Government.]
In late November, Army senior leadership announced the service’s intent to open a competition for a new carbine this fall in preparation for the June 30 expiration date of Colt’s hold on the M4 licensing agreement.
The Army is slated to finish fielding the last of its 473,000 M4 requirement some time next year.
Army weapons officials maintain that it’s good to have the option of inviting other gun companies to compete to make the M4 as it is now, if the need arises, said Col. Doug Tamilio, project manager for soldier weapons.
“We probably won’t do anything with it right now. … We have what we need,” Tamilio said. “The good news is we will own it now; that gives us the flexibility to do what we need it to do.”
Small-arms companies waiting for the chance to compete for the Army’s next carbine view Colt’s loss of the M4 TDP as a new beginning for the industry and for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. [WRONG: Colt, not the Government, is and will continue to be the owner of the Licensed Technology relating to the M4 Carbine. Colt has developed and qualified this License Technology at its private expense and it certainly has not loss any rights over ownership of the M4 technical data package. The Government may use this Licensed Technology but only on a non-exclusive, non-transferable basis, as a Colt licensee, and subject to the terms and conditions of the existing M16 License and M4 Addendum.]
“Now that the sole-source era is over, we hope to see free and open competition of any interim or long-term solution for the service rifle or carbine for the American soldier,” said Jason Schauble, vice president of the military products division of Remington. “Now there is a chance to get something better in the hands of the soldier. Why not do it? If Colt wins again, God bless them.”
Colt officials didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
Some in the small-arms industry say Colt’s 15-year control over the M4 is a natural part of the gun-making business.
“If a company designs and develops a product, they don’t do that for fun; they have a whole factory of people to feed,” said George Kontis, who is now the vice president of business development for Knights Armament Company but has worked for multiple small-arms firms since 1967.
“This is not anything new in history. It has always happened this way,” he said.
The next competition…
Army acquires rights to M4 (Army Times)