This one-off display gun is at the center of a tempest in a teacup of epic proportions. Image Via Apex Tactical.
This one-off display gun is at the center of a tempest in a teacup of epic proportions. Image Via Apex Tactical.

Smith & Wesson has just issued a groveling apology for their overzealous intellectual property (IP) attorney’s cease and desist letters sent out to the companies that worked on the 2016 Brownells Dream Gun for SHOT Show 2016 (line breaks added for readability).

James Debney, President and CEO of Smith & Wesson, said, “I would like to clarify that we fully support the Brownells Dream Guns® Project and we appreciate that it showcases the many ways in which our customers – loyal fans of our M&P brand – can choose to customize their M&P firearms.

Our decision to contact the companies that worked on the project was intended to protect the trademarks that support the M&P brand.  When a product bears the Smith & Wesson and M&P trademarks and is purchased new with our lifetime service policy, we want to be sure that the consumer knows it has passed our demanding quality standards.

In our efforts to protect that promise and to preserve the brand that we and our customers cherish, we did not fully understand the intent of the Dream Guns® Project and we overlooked the opportunity to convey our enthusiasm for the creativity and innovation that Brownells and all of the companies involved have demonstrated.  We look forward to seeing the firearm on display at the upcoming SHOT Show in January and at the NRA in May.”

Matt Buckingham, Brownells president, has also issued a statement that graciously offered Smith & Wesson a way down off the ledge.

“I have spoken with James Debney, President of Smith & Wesson, who called me regarding the M&P® Brownells/Apex Dream Gun™,” said Matt Buckingham, Brownells President. “It was a simple misunderstanding about the intention of the project.  He made it clear that Smith & Wesson is excited to have their product featured in this fun and unique way.  For our part, we are honored to include it in our Dream Gun lineup. Smith & Wesson is a legendary brand in this industry and we continue to be proud partners with them.”

An attorney for the law firm of Ballard Spahr is apparently the person who got Smith & Wesson in hot water with this frankly stupid C&D letter that has caused hundreds if not thousands of gun owners to swear off the company again.

Smith & Wesson earned the ire of American gun owners in 2000 for colluding with President Bill Clinton to push “smart guns” that were (and remain) unreliable, immature, and dangerous.

Update: I reached out to Smith & Wesson’s Liz Sharp, Vice President of Investor Relations, in order to get a better idea of precisely who was responsible for the letters going out. Here is her reply.

Thank you for your inquiry, Bob. First and foremost, we at Smith & Wesson take full responsibility for the letters that were sent and we apologize.  We value our customers, our peers within the industry, and our reputation. The letters originated at a lower level within our organization in an attempt to protect our brand.  However, the letters were clearly a mistake and we are taking the necessary steps to insure that this type of mistake does not occur again and that we have better oversight in the future.  I’d like to share that when our President and CEO, James Debney, was made aware of the situation, he immediately got on the phone with Pete Brownell and also with Matt Buckingham, both of Brownells, to explain what had occurred and to apologize.  They were both very understanding and we are pleased that our relationship with them remains strong.  James is now in the process of reaching out to each of the recipients of  the letter to extend a personal apology.