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FireClean Sues Its Critics

It looks as if Andrew Tuohy of the Vuurwapen Blog is being sued in federal court by the folks at FireClean. I’ve read over their lengthy federal complaint. A good bit of it is their ridiculous patent covering vegetable oil mixes. Generally speaking, the deck is stacked against plaintiffs in these kinds of cases. I believe corporations are considered public figures in these kinds of suits, which means they have to prove actual malice, which means they have to prove Mr. Tuohy knew his statements were false or that he recklessly disregarded the truth. That’s why you see accusations in their complaint like “Tuohy published this disparaging statement knowing it was false, or with reckless or negligent disregard for the truth.” This is a┬átall mountain to climb for FireClean.

But regardless of that, getting a suit dismissed, or prevailing in a jury trial requires hiring a lawyer, and given the amount of scientific data at play here, I wouldn’t imagine that’s going to be easy or cheap. There is no federal anti-SLAPP law, though there was one introduced in the House last year.

As for me, I keep it old school when it comes to lubes, so I wouldn’t buy FireClean anyway, but I definitely wouldn’t buy it after this. The other thing I believe FireClean may find out is that discovery is a bitch. The Vuurwapen Blog is raising money for it’s legal defense. I’d be sure to contribute. If FireClean wins this suit, the blogosphere’s free speech rights and our ability to criticize products without fear is going to be dangerously compromised.

21 Responses to “FireClean Sues Its Critics”

  1. The gun lube industry is full of snake oil, maybe there really is someone selling snake oil, products. Do they work? Yep. Are they any better than a product at 1/10 the cost? Nope. Pretty much any garage lubricant will work just fine.

    You’re either one of those people who cleans a gun after every 50 rounds and the lubricant really doesn’t matter, or you’re shooting the rails off a gun and cleaning it every 2000 or so rounds – and the lubricant still doesn’t matter. The old Pistol-training.com tests showed that most modern weapons would function just fine without cleaning or luberication after 8000+ rounds.

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t use anything fancier than Hoppes. Other than that, I’ve used samples people have given me. I’ve never had failures I’ve attributed to lube as opposed to other things.

      • I’ve used 10w30, Synthetic motor oil, automatic transmission fluid, and chain saw bar oil. All of them work just fine and all of them cost just a few bucks for what will be a lifetime supply.

  2. SPQR says:

    The complaint is frivolous and defective in several ways. Makes me wish I were licensed in Virginia . …

  3. Ian Argent says:

    Wonder if we could get a Popehat Signal lit – they’ve got some interest in anti-SLAPP (he says in understatement)

  4. Patrick says:

    Donated. Fireclean has its fanboys, but I wonder if they number enough to keep the doors open forever?

    I won’t touch their stuff and will make sure others hear my opinions, as well. And know that they sue anyone who talks critically about their product. That suggests nothing to hide there, at all…

    The Streisand Effect is a bitch.

  5. chiefjaybob says:

    I kicked in. I have a tough time understanding all the lube wars, anyway. It seems people are always looking for a newer, better, slicker lube; and if they think they’ve found it, well, your lube sucks and you’re using it wrong. If you have a decent lube and your gun keeps working, why change?

  6. Joe says:

    I cant believe how The Internet is lashing out saying that Fire Clean is suing Andrew ‘because of a bad review’.

    The reason that they are suing him is because he definitively said that Fire Clean is Canola oil. He also went on to say that he had scientific evidence it is canola oil with no additives what so ever, and essentially eluded to the fact that they were just repackaging off the shelf canola oil.

    Now, I think we should definitely let this all play out in court, but if their patent shows that there is no canola oil in their mix or that it has many blends and additives then they have a pretty darn good case.

    • SPQR says:

      Fireclean does not have a patent. Their patent application cannot “show” anything about the product. Its just a written claim of an invention. Nothing requires Fireclean to actually produce a lubricant product that matches the application.

      Further, the patent application is very vague, claiming an invention of a mixture of three oils from any of a large list of plant sources.

      Fireclean’s own complaint purports to refute Andrew’s assertion that their product is a vegetable oil by saying that it is three vegetable oils. That’s pretty weak.

      By the way, “canola” oil is plant relatives of rapeseed. Its not impossible to obtain oils of several “canola” sources numbering … say three … and match the patent application.

    • Jim Jones says:

      You clearly did not read the article and you are being an intellectually dishonest ass. Here is what he said, taken straight from the article:

      “FireClean is probably a modern unsaturated vegetable oil virtually the same as many oils used for cooking.”

      That is a couched statement because he knows he can “definitively sa[y] that Fire Clean is Canola.” Stop being an ass.

    • Ken says:

      Andrew’s post looks to me like a classic example of “opinion based on disclosed facts”, a well-established category of protected speech, not defamation.

    • Tam says:

      The reason that they are suing him is because he definitively said that Fire Clean is Canola oil.

      He very carefully did not.

      • HSR47 says:

        Precisely. It was OTHERS who read his articles, and THEN cited them as the justification to say “lube F = cooking oil C.”

    • Sebastian says:

      Canola oil is mentioned 8 times in their patent application. Rapeseed oil (which is Canola oil, essentially) is mentioned at least twice.

  7. aerodawg says:

    I have some FC and it works but don’t know that I would buy any more. Right or wrong, I view companies that respond to individuals speech with lawsuits rather negatively. If someone is wrong, make your case with evidence, not the courts….

    • Archer says:

      I use Hoppes myself. But I’ve also read that in a pinch, pretty much any mild oil with a high smoke point can be used to lube a firearm. If you have nothing else, a dab of olive oil will work for a while.

      If FC is, in fact, canola oil, EVOO may even be a better choice, given some canola oils’ relatively low smoke point.

      Part of me would be tempted to try coconut oil (advertised smoke point of 425F), if I had an extra gun I didn’t care too much about.

      • Patrick says:

        I turned to vegetable oil in a pinch last year on travel (cleaned a gun but forgot the lube). It worked fine for a few days in the summer, but it gummed up when I tried using it again a few months later. Had to detail strip and clean that thing a few times to make it all happy again.

        So “in a pinch” will work, but probably expect to clean up the mess later on.

  8. HSR47 says:

    I’ve used some of the recent “non-toxic” plant-based lubes; To a degree, they work.

    In my experience, one tends to do a relatively good job of both lubricating and protecting firearms, at least until it starts to gum up after about 6-9 months. My .300 BLK SBR was so lubed, and it caused some feeding issues during my last range trip.

    Another of these wonderlubes tends to evaporate and/or burn off over time, and thus needs to be reapplied periodically.

    Between the two, I’m not entirely sure which I prefer, but given this, I most certainly won’t ever be buying one of them again.

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