The Honeymoon is over.

by Doc Nickel

In the early eighties, Bob Gurnsey passed up a chance to patent all paintball- the very idea of the game- since it would stifle the nascent sport and keep it from growing.

In the late eighties, Tippmann declines to patent the CO2 tank "pin valve", since doing so would prevent it's widespread use and adoption, and Tippmann knew it was far safer and more useful than any of the other cobbled options players were using.

A year or two later, Glenn Palmer passes up the chance to patent pneumatic automation- the method by which an Autococker, Typhoon and Blazer work. He wasn't interested in keeping a stranglehold on the idea, and wanted to see it used and improved.

In the very early nineties, FASTech declines to fight PMI over the stacked-valve blowback semiauto patent. This opens the door to low-cost semiautos, which by themselves are singularly responsible for a major percentage of paintball's growth through the ninties.

About that same time, Tom Kaye refuses to patent the regulated nitrogen system, since he felt it was a superior power source over CO2. Without the HPA systems, our current high-speed, high-ROF markers and ultra-stable regulators simply wouldn't have worked.

And now, now we have Smart Parts. Smart Parts wants to patent the very idea of using electricity in any manner to fire a paintball.

What does this mean? Cash. Raw greed. Smart Parts is looking to literally corner the market. If the patent goes through as declared, every manufacturer that makes an electric or electronic paintball gun will have to pay SP royalties on each marker produced. Or pay a licensing fee, or whatever SP decides they want to do.

A thread over on Automags.Org hints that SP might ask a cool million bucks for the licensing fee, and $75 per unit on top of that.

Know what that means? That means the fees come from YOU, the player. Increased costs of manufacturing are always passed on to the consumer. If it costs more to make it, you'll pay more for it in the store.

Let's take an example: Let's say ICD estimates they'll sell 20,000 Bushmasters in the next couple of years. We know a Bushy costs about $400 now, give or take. That million-dollar fee adds $50 per unit right off the top, and another $75 means that, with ZERO other changes, the cost of a Bushmaster just went up $125.

How about $1,300 Angel Speeds? Or $1,800 IR3s. $500 E-Spyders. $1,900 Intimidators. $600 Black Draguns.

That $1,600 Lasoya Timmy? They're not gonna sell 20,000 of 'em. They might sell 400. That's $2,500 in licensing fees before you even buy the marker. Think that a $4,175 marker will be good for the sport?

But, of course, SP will have $450 Impulses and $750 Shockers.

This, boys and girls, is what's known as a Monopoly. Ask Bill Gates and the US Justice Department- and Apple Computers- if a Monopoly is a good thing.

Our carefree honeymoon is over. The days of altruistic industry greats willing to make a small sacrifice for the good of the sport, are over. Randy Kamiya used to write about small inter-industry squabbles, and his analogy was, rather than try and stab somebody in the back for a bigger share of the pie, let's work to make a bigger pie.

This is no longer good enough for Smart Parts. They want a bigger pie, and more of it. Electros are the fastest-growing segment of the sport right now, mainly thanks to the recent advent of the low-cost "sear tripper" electro-blowbacks. For the first time, a player can buy a pretty decent electro for a pretty decent price, and actually have a good marker.

Is SP looking at that, seeing the dropoff in Shocker sales- their self-described "flagship" marker- and sales of their Impulse- which is commonly considered a midrange electro which needs several upgrades, such and an LPR, to be tournament ready- being undercut by the Bushmaster, the Defiant, even the Intimidator, as well as the fleets of entry-level sear-trippers?

Are they looking at that, and deciding they want a bigger slice of the pie? What other explanation can there be?

Will Smart Parts be magnanimous and only charge a very small token royalty? History says otherwise- remember, after all, that SP is the company that sold two versions of the Shocker, one the standard semiauto, the other a full-auto. All the circuit boards were exactly the same, the full-auto ones just had a small microswitch soldered to preexisting contacts. For that switch, the player paid a hundred dollars or more extra.

This is the same company that drilled a hole in a plastic Armson elbow ($3 retail) stuck a length of pneumatics hose in it and called it an "Air Assist", which retailed at $35.

This is the company that deliberately used a unique barrel thread on the Shocker in order to sell more barrels. When they brough the Impulse out, it had yet another barrel thread, incompatible with anything else.

In order to sell more barrels.

I, for one, would not count on Smart Parts' charity in this matter.

I will admit I'm a fan of some of SP's products. I've always been a fan of the Max Flow HPA system. It's maintenence-intensive, but it's a very good reg. The so-called "Smart Valve" is finally a reliable, rebuildable shutoff valve for CO2 tanks, which have always been troublesome.

I've also enjoyed owning and working on Shockers and Impulses, but I'll also be the first to admit there's some serious shortcomings with both designs.

But if this goes through, I will carefully hoard my current stable of electros, and I will run full tilt back to 'Cockers. I will not in any way, shape or form, if this suit passes, buy another SP product. No Freaks, no Maxes, no All-Americans. No Shockers, no Impulses, no RASE clothes. No grips, no valves, no drops, no nothing.

And I will recommend to all who will listen to do the same. The raw, naked greed boiling off SP is a spreading stain on the sport, and I'm afraid we're all going to get a little dirty.


Posted on Jul 21, 2003, 6:52 PM

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  1. Excellent post. Riddler, Jul 21, 2003
    1. Agreed. . .. Ronin22K9, Jul 21, 2003
      1. With you a hundred percent.... Conqueror, Jul 21, 2003
        1. i've intentionally never bought a smart parts product..... paul, Jul 21, 2003
          1. Doc - your a magician with words.. IDN, Jul 22, 2003
            1. Woo. Heebs, Jul 22, 2003
              1. Hmmm.... Sahm, Jul 23, 2003
  2. Well put.. Renegade_Azzy, Jul 21, 2003
  3. Not IDC but..... Rumor Monger, Jul 21, 2003
  4. i am done with SP products..... tom, Jul 21, 2003
    1. Don't sell your Freak. Hopalong, Jul 22, 2003
      1. What??. Interceptor, Jul 22, 2003
        1. hence.... tom, Jul 22, 2003
  5. Hopper Stickers. Desmond Jones, Jul 21, 2003
    1. talk to S7G.... Riddler, Jul 21, 2003
      1. I have an impulse.... Hellbore, Jul 21, 2003
        1. Pics!. jwigum, Jul 21, 2003
          1. If I can't sell it.... Hellbore, Jul 21, 2003
            1. That's counterproductive.... Doc Nickel, Jul 21, 2003
              1. But the S&W boycott DID work... HP_Lovecraft, Jul 22, 2003
                1. S&W boycott. chris, Jul 23, 2003
                  1. Re: S&W boycott. Anonymous, Mar 12, 2004
              2. Actually.... reason not to buy used SP.... defiance, Jul 22, 2003
                1. I agree, more reasons inside. that_guy, Jul 22, 2003
              3. Docs right...counterproductive. Steve Walters, Aug 18, 2003
        2. Interesting things happen when you do that.......(good read on this one). Hans, Jul 21, 2003
          1. I can't say for sure, but I saw her at California red alert.... Ironbadger, Jul 22, 2003
          2. Not in SP defence..... Renegade_Azzy, Jul 22, 2003
            1. Ahh, must have changed it since then. Hans, Jul 22, 2003
          3. I paid 80 dollars from SP for my Impy solenoid.. Dubstar, Sep 4, 2003
      2. BIGGER HOPPER stickers they need to be bigger and REDD!! nt. IDN, Jul 22, 2003
  6. Agreed on all points.. Punisher, Jul 21, 2003
    1. My "position".... Doc Nickel, Jul 21, 2003
      1. Please don't take my question wrong...... Punisher, Jul 21, 2003
  7. SP SUX!!!. Ryan, Jul 21, 2003
    1. uncalled for..... tom, Jul 21, 2003
      1. Be nice tom...... Punisher, Jul 22, 2003
        1. But.... Kanuck, Jul 22, 2003
          1. That's screwed up a lot of kids over the years....... Punisher, Jul 22, 2003
        2. and that was sugar coated!!!. tom, Jul 22, 2003
      2. He dose have a reson Tom. IDN, Jul 22, 2003
  8. We must slam smartparts with a flurry of emails, phone calls, and letters. Henry, Jul 21, 2003
    1. And that will accomplish what?.... Gambit, Jul 22, 2003
      1. psycological warfare..... BlueFish, Jul 23, 2003
        1. If all else. BlindSight-, Jul 24, 2003
  9. wow...what a morning.... Chris at Tech, Jul 22, 2003
    1. I'm up for that trip, but.... Conqueror, Jul 22, 2003
  10. Preaching to the choir....(and why I'm anti-SP). Movie Guy, Jul 22, 2003
  11. Did Mollick ever make an electro?. Spaceman!, Jul 22, 2003
    1. Lots of people made them in 94-95.. HP_Lovecraft, Jul 22, 2003
      1. Re: Lots of people made them in 94-95.. Pat, Jul 22, 2003
        1. Re. prior art. Norm, Aug 20, 2003
  12. I had a conversation with a SP insider............ pbjosh, Jul 22, 2003
    1. hey.... 2xFast, Jul 22, 2003
      1. Long time no NET-. pbjosh, Jul 22, 2003
        1. still up in bham? nt. upriver, Jul 22, 2003
          1. Same address- Swing on by 2xfast after 6 or so. pbjosh, Jul 22, 2003
            1. cool.... 2xFast, Jul 22, 2003
              1. Drive that hybrid you guys are working on. pbjosh, Jul 22, 2003
                1. will seal let one of his babies out of the shop?. upriver, Jul 22, 2003
  13. adding my support to the anti-sp. Quickling, Jul 22, 2003
  14. Post from a friend. prince_valiant11, Jul 22, 2003
    1. ^^ posted by em for a friend.... Renegade_Azzy, Jul 22, 2003
  15. opposite. spencer, Jul 22, 2003
  16. Unreal Tournament Mod Will Not Include Smartparts. _MVPB_pixelKeg, Jul 22, 2003
  17. Not good for the sport SP will be a setback for it. Warfinge, Jul 22, 2003
  18. Lost for words. Pummel u, Jul 22, 2003
  19. Maybe we should just boycott either way. Miseph, Jul 22, 2003
  20. Well said, doc. James Robertson, Jul 23, 2003
    1. Re: Well said, doc. Steve, Jul 29, 2003
  21. Amen to that Doc.... James "Phil_Dragun", Jul 23, 2003
  22. true. michael l., Jul 23, 2003
  23. agree 100%. denso, Jul 23, 2003
  24. screw sp. collin, Jul 23, 2003
  25. Re: The Honeymoon is over.. anonymous, Jul 23, 2003
  26. Boycotting SP won't work, you'll have to boycot electro trigger frames alltogether. Funk's Old Brother, Jul 24, 2003
    1. Welllllllllllllll!. Smokie, Jul 27, 2003
  27. you're all dumbazzes. bloody, Jul 26, 2003
    1. bloody grow up....... superman351, Jul 26, 2003
    2. o shut up. Duh man, Jul 27, 2003
    3. sigh.. John, Jul 27, 2003
  28. right on. joe messina, Jul 26, 2003
  29. smartparts. Anthony Martinez, Jul 26, 2003
  30. tough issue. John, Jul 27, 2003
  31. Agreed. Bebop, Jul 29, 2003
  32. *ahem*. Anonymous, Jul 29, 2003
    1. um...... minimagmahem, Aug 1, 2003
  33. amazing. Adam Houston, Aug 5, 2003
  34. this may explain alot and give some of you a better view of sp. Paul, Aug 14, 2003
    1. W00t! Go get 'em ICD!!!., Aug 16, 2003
      1. Last I heard. Dredly, Nov 28, 2003
  35. they tried that on us. leethal, Aug 23, 2003
  36. they tried that with us. leethal, Aug 23, 2003
  37. sorry,didn't think it went through. leethal, Aug 23, 2003
  38. It doesn't surprise me. Jon, Aug 27, 2003
  39. DOWN WITH SMART PARTS. ryan moore, Aug 27, 2003
    1. dsa. dsadsd dsa dsadassssssssssssssssssss, Mar 2, 2004
  40. I'm in!. Robert, Aug 30, 2003
  41. sp. Roy Dragon, Oct 6, 2003
  42. HELL YAH. Josh Gordon, Oct 10, 2003
    1. cool. jack, Oct 21, 2003
  43. uh..... David, Oct 13, 2003
    1. Quality. Ronin, Oct 14, 2003
  44. Amen. Adam, Nov 25, 2003
  45. BILL GATES. c0dey, Feb 26, 2004
    1. Hmm. Applebomb, Mar 19, 2004
  46. excellent post. jp, Feb 27, 2004
  47. Don't forget to add Oracle to that list..... Ben, Apr 2, 2004
  48. NAZIS!. Chaves, Apr 21, 2004
  49. Thank You. Jared Meier, Jul 6, 2004
  50. Tom Kaye Retires from Paintball because of SP. Dave, Dec 17, 2004


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