C.G. Haenel GmbH, the company that was originally selected to deliver next generation rifles for the German Armed Forces in September 2020, has now been excluded from the program.
Shortly after the German defense ministry announced its surprising decision in September last year, Heckler & Koch – another contender in the program – protested the decision claiming patent infringements.
This prompted the defense ministry to cancel the procurement of over 100,000 rifles from C.G. Haenel GmbH in order to re-evaluate the bids.
According to several German news reports, the defense ministry has now decided to ban C.G. Haenel GmbH from participating in the tender due to two separate patent infringements.
The first includes Heckler & Koch’s patents related to the so-called “over the beach” capability, which allows for the rifles to be operated even after they spend time under water. The other infringement is related to a patent held by US company Magpul and concerns certain characteristics of the rifle’s 30-round magazine.
C.G. Haenel GmbH has already dismissed the infringement claims and has pointed out that there was no legal dispute related to the patents between itself and Heckler & Koch. The company also added that the second “alleged infringement” was not relevant to the German tender as the company never made the spare magazine a part of the offer.
“In its statement to the [German defense procurement agency] BAAINBw, C.G. Haenel explained and proved that the exclusion of the company from the award procedure would be inadmissible. C.G. Haenel therefore continues to assume that it will be awarded the contract,” a company statement reads.
With the elimination of C.G. Haenel GmbH, Heckler & Koch remains the only bidder in the competition. It remains to be seen whether the defense ministry will simply award the rifle contract directly to Heckler & Koch or launch the tender anew without C.G. Haenel.
C.G. Haenel is also likely to protest the decision in court.
Update: After first reports on the decision emerged on Monday, the German defense ministry released a statement confirming the decision. It also confirmed that the contract would be awarded to Heckler & Koch for the HK416 rifle.