On 16 September 2020, the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) announced that the company C.G. Haenel had emerged as the winner of the award procedure for the “Assault Rifle System Project”. C.G. Haenel had submitted the most economical bid.
In response, an unsuccessful competitor claimed to the awarding authority that the company C.G. Haenel had infringed patent rights. Due to the strategic importance of the project, the BAAINBw then decided to examine the reservations. A patent attorney was commissioned to prepare various expert opinions regarding possible patent infringements. On 18 December 2020, the BAAINBw announced that C.G. Haenel “may” have infringed a patent in its offered MK 556 weapon. In all other respects, the offer “meets the requirements”.
By means of an advance information letter dated 2 March 2021, C.G. Haenel was excluded from the tender procedure “Project System Assault Rifle” by the BAAINBw. The BAAINBw cited the disputed infringement of patents as the only reason. C.G. Haenel filed a complaint against this decision on 4 March and submitted an application for review on 12 March.
C.G. Haenel has represented throughout the review proceedings and remains firmly convinced that there is no patent infringement. The MK 556 on offer has no technical features that could infringe a Heckler & Koch patent. This view was confirmed by an expert opinion of the internationally renowned patent lawyer Professor Dr Donle. For this reason alone, an exclusion of C.G. Haenel from the tender procedure is clearly unlawful. Furthermore, the expert opinion states that the alleged patent is null and void. The BAAINBw has not contradicted the statement on the invalidity of Heckler & Koch’s patent at any time in the proceedings to date.