There are a lot of ways that a padlock can become a “Patented Padlock”. It could be the look of the padlock which would be a design patent or it could be the way it operates which would be a utility patent. A utility patent is the stronger of the two because it can be put in or made to work in any padlock design.
The lock cylinder is the most usual way that a padlock becomes patented. High security lock companies such as Abloy and Medeco take their patented lock cylinders and modify them to operate in a padlock. They will then say that they have a patent on their padlocks. In reality their patent is on the lock cylinder not the padlock body. This is not to say it’s a bad thing, it is a very good lock. They will also choose a body design that is very strong and difficult to attack and defeat.
Other locks such as the Cobra Padlock have a unique design of the padlock body that allows for lock cylinders from other manufacturers to work in their lock bodies. They have earned a patent on the padlock body and if a patented lock cylinder is used that makes the complete padlock patented.
There are many lock manufacturers that make padlocks though most are not patented. This does not make them inferior or bad. Many are very strong physically and very difficult to defeat. You will find many of these type padlocks at big box stores. Patented padlocks are usually sold at authorized service centers that specialize in high security locks of all types.
When you purchase a high security patented padlock besides getting very strong physical security you also get key control and access control. All of this comes at a higher cost when compared to the big box type of padlocks. When purchasing one of these types of locks you should first decide what you are trying to protect and what that is worth to you.
These types of locks are custom assembled to the exact specifications of the end user. This means that you can order any quantity and have them keyed different, or keyed alike, and even master keyed. Keys are usually ordered separately so that you get the exact quantity of keys that you require. The key code is also registered to the end user, with that person only able to order additional keys.