Commercial locks are designed to limit the types of keys that can enter the lock cylinder. This is accomplished by uniquely slotting the plug component within the lock cylinder. This unique slot is the “keyway.” The keyway allows a predictable subset of different key shapes to be properly...
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Losing this case was monumental as it allowed companies that provide aftermarket key blanks to reproduce formally protected keyways and distribute them without restrictions. Lock companies could no longer rely on design patents to guarantee their exclusive rights to distribute restricted keyways.
Lock companies went back to the drawing board and designed new key blanks that were not only instrumental in operating the lock cylinder, but were also necessary to disable additional security features.
New key blanks would sport cavities, detents, dimples, and insertions. These new features would engage security mechanisms within the lock cylinder. The key blank and lock cylinder would be protected by utility patents that focused on functionality.
High Security Multiplex Key Systems
High security multiplex key systems were then created where all keys in the system feature the protected invention.
Lock companies now offer large multiplex key systems integrated with security features that are protected with strong utility patents. Figure 12 is an example where all the keys in this multiplex key system are protected by patent from being reproduced and distributed by others.
The Keymark® keyway, shown in Figure 13, uses a security leg® that is set at an angle. By changing the angle of the security leg®, a new set of proprietary keyways can be developed. Wards along the security leg® allows keyways that share an angle to be multiplexed.
An additional feature of Keymark® cylinders is that several versions are available to accommodate retrofitting into all kinds of commercial locksets and padlocks.
A Bit Of Irony
Today companies are looking for exclusive keyways that work with their master key systems and will guarantee that the distribution of key stock is kept secured.
Modern exclusivity is based upon the purchase of new high-security lock cylinders that feature multiplex key systems.
An alternative is to research older, obsolete keyways.
Lock companies like Corbin, Schlage and Yale, have been around for a long time and they still have the ability to provide lock cylinders, plugs, and key blanks with old, obsolete or rare keyways.
Some of these keyways are so old or rare that aftermarket key blanks were never made or were discontinued.
A key blank has to be popular to justify the expense of tooling up for an aftermarket version.
Ironically, old, obsolete, or rare keyways provide significant security as it is not practical to “knock” them off, leaving the lock company as the only means to obtain key stock.
Sectional and related keyways developed by SARGENT to meet large institutions demands.
ASSA Twin Series lock mechanisms designed for single step master keying.