Patented, Proprietary and Restricted Key Blanks and Related Lock Mechanisms

To preface this article, I am not an attorney and the following information is intended to provide a general understanding of the terms higher and high security, key control, patented, restricted, proprietary and other terms used by lock manufacturers and...

IMPORTANT: High security locks that offer key control can have a UL437 Listing. However, locks that have a UL437 Listing are not required to offer key control. Also, a UL437 Listing or ANSI A156.30 security rating does not expire.

ANSI/BHMA A156.30 - 2003 includes standards for key control. “To obtain a Level A with regard to key control, key blanks must not be available from a second source, they must be protected by law, and only factory cut keys are provided by the manufacturer only after authorization..,”according to the BHMA New Standard For High Security Cylinders.

IMPORTANT: Patented keys and keyway lock mechanisms only have patent protection during the life of the patent. When a utility patent ends, most lock manufacturers will (protect) continue to follow the same business practices as when the patent was active.


When Patents Expire

Utility patents expire and new and/or “improved” patents replace them. Some lock manufacturers require customers to replace keyway lock mechanisms and keys when a patent expires.

Other companies, for example Schlage, offer an upgrade path on their patented locks. “The Schlage Everest Primus patent expires during 2014. The Schlage Everest Primus XP and the Primus XP patent expires during 2024. This newest key system is the “XP” family. These cylinders have a #7 side pin added to provide more combinating options as well as added security,”according to the Schlage Primus© Service Manual.

“Schlage Primus XP key systems are available in all Classic & Everest (full Size) keyway families. Existing Primus systems can be upgraded to XP with the replacement of one finger pin to the #7-pin and the issuance of Primus XP keys. Current Primus keys, (Everest or Classic) cannot be modified to operate Primus XP cylinders and locks,” according to Schlage.


Patented Key Blanks & Keyways

Patented key blanks and keyway lock cylinders are available from lock manufacturers either directly or through locksmith distributors. Each has their own method of determining access to their product line and who can and cannot purchase product. The larger the area, the greater the amount of product must be purchased to maintain the exclusivity.

Some examples of patented keyway lock mechanisms include:

  • Abloy® Protec
  • Arrow Pointe Flex
  • ASSA Twin Exclusive/Twin V-10/Twin Pro/Twin Maximum
  • Bilock
  • Corbin Russwin® Pyramid®
  • CX5 (formerly Scorpion)
  • Kaba® Peaks® Preferred
  • Marks Hi-Security™
  • Medeco Medeco3/BiLevel/ KeyMark/KeyMark x4
  • Mul-T-Lock MT5®/ Interactive®/Integrator®
  • Sargent Keso F1/Signature/XC
  • Schlage Everest/Everest Primus/Classic Primus XP/ Everest Primus XP
  • Yale KeyMark

The patented keyway lock mechanism that permits only the lock manufacturer’s key blank varies from lock manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, the Arrow Pointe Flex patented key design has a pin assembly that extends within the center of the keyway, preventing standard IC keys from entering the core. The Pointe Flex key has a milled opening that accommodates the pin assembly.

The ASSA Twin V-10 uses two rows of pin tumblers and a sidebar to provide two layers of security. The ASSA Twin V-10 uses six pin tumblers and five sidebar finger pins. Top pins use single and double-spool designs and provide pick resistance. Top and bottom pins are of uniform pin stack height that is taller than the pin chambers. To protect against key interchange and unauthorized duplication, the V-10 patented key control has sidebar cuts that must be matched by the finger pins true gates that are raised by the key to different positions. False gates provide manipulation protection. For forced entry protection, the V-10 cylinder and plug use a variety of hardened steel inserts. The pin tumbler portion of the ASSA Twin V-10 key can be originated using standard key originating equipment.

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