What are Patented Locks and what do they mean to you? The simple answer to that question is it’s a lock that has a patent. This is a very simple answer indeed. There are two patents that a company could win on a product. A design patent is where the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) awarded a design patent on the shape of the product. The second is a utility patent, this is much stronger, and it is awarded on how the product works and functions.
For example, a design patent could be awarded on a key with a square bow (the part you hold), but someone else could design a key with a round bow, effectively going around this design patent. In a utility patent one could be awarded based on how the key fits into the lock and how it interacts with the locking pins. A different design of the key would still violate this patent. This is because in this case how the key works to open the lock was protected, in other words the concept not the design of the key.
In practical everyday use lock manufacturers will design “keyways” which is the way the key fits into the lock and how it interacts with the locking pins. Locks that have these types of patents are typically called high security locks. They offer a high level of key control because the manufacturers are able to control the use and distribution of their key blanks.
So far I have been talking about mechanical locks, electronic locks also provide a very high level of key control and they also have utility patents. However, they are different in that the actual electronic circuit is being protected as well as the concept on how that circuit controls the mechanical part of the lock to open the door. The “key” for an electronic lock could be a card, secret push button code or your fingerprint.
Not all locks that we use in our everyday lives need to have this level of key control or be called Patented Locks. It all depends on what or who we are trying to protect and how much we are willing to spend. I have blogged about this in the past, but I think that it should be repeated. In the case of a business: how much is business disruption or your products worth? In the case of your home: how much is the protection of your stuff and your family worth?
Only you can answer these questions.
Locking Systems International holds several utility lock patents and sells Patented Locks from our LsiDepot web site. We also represent both Abloy and Medeco, both are holders of many lock patents. Contact us at 800.657.LOCK (5625) or click on one of the links above.