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Spanish Patent Quirks: Anitua Y Charola’s Copy of the Merwin & Hulbert

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The firm of Anitua Y Charola in Eibar, Spain (later renamed Charola Y Anitua) was founded in 1880 or 1881, and their first substantial product was a copy of the American Merwin & Hulbert revolver. They were made with hopes of getting Spanish military adoption, and thus were chambered for the .44 S&W American cartridge instead of the .44-40 Winchester cartridge that the original Merwin & Hulbert used. The military acceptance never did come, but the guns were in production for about 15 years.

An interesting quirk of Spanish patent law was that a product had to be actually produced in Spain in order to qualify for patent protection. None of the major small arms developers had manufacturing facilities in Spain, and so most never bothered to take out Spanish patents – and Spanish gunmakers rampantly copied European and American designs. In this case, though, Anitua took the rather brazen step of patenting the Merwin & Hulbert system them selves in Spain! To make things more interesting, a legal fight then developed between Anitua and the rival company Orbea Hermanos, who claimed to have been making the Merwin & Hulber system first…

Many thanks to Mike Carrick of Arms Heritage Magazine for providing me access to film this example!

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