European Patent Office revokes Swarovski Optik KG’s riflescope patent

The Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich has granted the requests submitted by Leica Camera AG and another well-known riflescope manufacturer and has revoked the European Patent 1 746 451 held by Swarovski Optik KG as, in the opinion of the Board of Appeal, it does not have any inventive step. The revocation of the patent has immediate effect. The decision applies to all EU member states.

Leica Camera AG has thus achieved an important legal victory in the 3.5-year dispute with Swarovski Optik KG regarding the European riflescope patent. Following the specialist trade fair, IWA OutdoorClassics, in March 2011, there had been an accusation that Leica Camera AG would infringe the disputed Swarovski patent with its Magnus riflescope. Conversely, Leica Camera AG always maintained that the relevant patent was not legally valid. This legal opinion has now been confirmed by the decision of the EPO Board of Appeal.

Stephan Albrecht, head of the sport optics division at Leica Camera AG, comments: ‘Patents are for protecting innovations and developments but should not prevent free and fair competition. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other leading vendors, Leica Camera AG has continuously stressed that the patent held by Swarovski Optik KG does not protect any inventive step; instead it essentially describes the known state of the art. We are very pleased that the European Patent Office agrees with our opinion and that the sale of our products will no longer be impeded by this dispute.’

In addition to their outstanding imaging performance, the relevant riflescopes from the Magnus product line are characterised by their exceptionally wide field of view, a greater than sixfold zoom range and, above all, by their mechanical robustness and durability.

About Leica Camera

Leica Camera AG is an internationally operating, premium-segment manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. The legendary reputation of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of excellent quality. In combination with innovative technologies, all Leica products fulfil a common objective: better pictures, wherever perception and visualization matter. Leica Camera AG has its headquarters in Wetzlar, in the state of Hessen in Germany, and a second production site in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal and operates its own worldwide network of regional organisations, Leica Retail Stores, Leica Galleries and Leica Akademies.