Glock Intimidates Toy Makers

Glock first went after Ken Wu, an owner of AirSplat — a California­-based maker of realistic-­looking plastic guns that shoot harmless plastic pellets — four years ago. But that case fizzled, and now Glock is going after the 100-employee company again. Wu says the big gun maker is using underhanded tactics aimed at intimidating, such as naming eight AirSplat aliases as defendants. "They kind of just threw everything in," Wu says. "They're trying to add fuel to the fire."

Wu says his company produces toys and has cost Glock absolutely no damages. The corporation's real motivation with the suit, he contends, is to bully everyone out of the burgeoning airsoft market so Glock can make its own entrance. "Gosh — you're a little late to the party," he says.

Wu sees the case as a matter of his business's life and death. A loss to Glock now, he says, would set the precedent that the entire toy gun industry is illegitimate — an idea he views as absurd. "What we're trying to do is take a stand," he says, "not only for ourselves but for the industry as a whole."

Renzulli, the Glock lawyer, says Glock is the real victim. "This is not David versus Goliath here. It's asking for compliance." He also questions Wu's characterization of AirSplat guns as toys. "If it's such a great product," he asks, "why does it have to be in the image of a Glock?"

Glock first sued Confino for his blank pistols in 2000, but Maxsell was only a codefendant in a larger suit against an Italian manufacturer and ultimately settled without paying damages. Then, in 2010, Glock demanded he stop selling another blank-firing gun, the Turkish-made Atak Arms Zoraki M917.

"It's not a Glock," Confino says. "Everybody knows it's not a Glock."

Things only got uglier. Confino publicly questioned the credentials of a Glock lawyer and entered into personal disputes with company representatives, culminating in what he maintains was the lawyer's personal threat against him.

Emails exchanged between Confino and Glock hint at the protracted, salty exchange: "In calls with you on April 26 and June 1 you refused to discuss how to resolve this matter," began a June 8, 2012 email from a Glock lawyer to Confino, "but instead called Glock's representatives 'whores' and worse. As you know too well, no Glock representative has said anything to you like, 'I don't like you and I am going to destroy you.' For you to publicly claim so with your public notice is false, clearly retaliatory, and actionable."

The next day, Confino shot back, maintaining he had indeed been threatened and disparaging the lawyer's attack. "I was so shocked by [the] verbal threat that I was unable to sleep and kept being awakened by his statement reverberating in my head," he responded.

In August 2013, a settlement was reached. Confino would pay a total of $550,000 and agree to stop selling the guns.

Eight months later, Confino is still reeling. He was forced to turn over boxes of guns to be destroyed, and he's had problems with U.S. Customs holding his shipments. Warehouse shelves that used to be flush with replica guns now sit mostly empty. Glock's lawyers caused this, he says, by using "every dirty legal trick in the book." Their suit against him, he says, amounted to "a personal vendetta and extortion."

But Gaston Glock, the man whose company nearly destroyed Confino's business and wreaked untold havoc on his personal life? "I respect the man," Confino says. "I respect any man who has the ability to do what he has done. He has changed the world of guns. Everybody's copied him."

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"Everybody's copied him" Including you Mr. Confino. Including you. You should have called your copy a Big Mac, & then whined about being bullied by McDonald's. Why couldn't you just come up with an original design? Then this wouldn't be happening to you. ;-)