The lever-action is America’s rifle. Sure, we’re living in the time of the AR, which might even be slowly usurping the lever gun. But the AR will never have the storied history or carry the romance of the lever-action rifle. In that vein Marlin’s Model 336 could be considered the dean of lever-actions. Rossi’s Rio Grande could be considered a clone of this classic American hunting arm.
Why would a company set out to copy another manufacture’s rifle? Why didn’t Marlin throw a temper tantrum? There are several reasons, actually.
For starters, the patent on the Marlin 336 design has expired. Secondly, there exist enough cosmetic differences to protect Rossi from any trade dress infringement claims by Marlin. None of this is intended as a slight toward Rossi or Marlin. Imitation is a grand form of flattery: consider the 1911 and AR-15 clones currently available.