Print 52 comment(s) - last by ShadowZERO.. on Apr 23 at 3:36 PM

Alright, what smart Monster Cable employee decided to initiate a fight with a small company headed by a skilled lawyer?

Monster Cable, known for its pricey boutique cables, which it markets to the audiophile community is no stranger to controversy.  The cable company markets the cables as having superior quality sound, but according to one infamous study "audio aficionados" supposedly were unable to tell the difference in sound between short monster cables and a short metal coat hanger forged into a crude connecter

While its merits are debatable, one hard fact is that Monster Cable has a penchant for agressive litigation.  It has sent letters accusing everyone from Monster Energy Drinks to Monsters Inc., the Disney/Pixar movie, of trademark infringement.  However, some its legal assaults are industry specific as well.  However, it appears it may have finally met its match in one small company, Blue Jeans Cable.

Monster Cable accused Blue Jeans Cable of ripping off its cable designs for Blue Jeans'  Tartan line of RCA-style cables.  Monster Cable sent Blue Jeans a cease-and-desist letter demanding it to suspend production.  Unfortunately for Monster Cable, Blue Jean's president, Kurt Denke was a skilled lawyer.

He sent a whopper of a response back to Monster Cable, dripping in detail, sarcasm, and legitimate demands that is sure to have Monster Cable's legal team sweating.

Denke states:
 Let me begin by stating, without equivocation, that I have no interest whatsoever in infringing upon any intellectual property belonging to Monster Cable. Indeed, the less my customers think my products resemble Monster's, in form or in function, the better ... If there is more than one such connector design in actual use by Monster Cable as to which appropriation of trade dress is alleged, of course, I will require this information for each and every such design. On the basis of what I have seen, both in the USPTO documents you have sent and the actual appearance of Monster Cable connectors which I have observed in use in commerce, it does not appear to me that Monster Cable is in a position to advance a nonfrivolous claim for infringement of these marks.
I will also point out to you that if you do choose to undertake litigation, your "upside" is tremendously limited.  If you somehow managed, despite the formidable obstacles in your way, to obtain a finding of infringement, and if you were successful at recovering a large licensing fee--say, ten cents per connector--as the measure of damages, your recovery to date would not reach four figures.  On the downside, I will advance defenses which, if successful, will substantially undermine your future efforts to use these patents and marks to threaten others with these types of actions; as you are of course aware, it is easier today for your competitors to use collateral estoppel offensively than it ever has been before.  Also, there is little doubt that making baseless claims of trade dress infringement and design patent infringement is an improper business tactic, which can give rise to unfair competition claims, and for a company of Monster's size, potential antitrust violations with treble damages and attorneys' fees.
The lengthy full letter that is released here raises many good points.  Monster Cable's claims are tenuous at best as many of its patents fall under products where there was significant prior art.  For a company with more junk legal threats than the Church of Scientology, there is a "boy who cried wolf" aura to the suit.

Nonetheless it would be unsurprising to see a lesser small-company bow down and kowtow to Monster Cable, fearful of the larger company's resources.  However, like any bully it appears Monster Cable has finally met its match.

I'm no lawyer, and this is not a legal opinion, Monster Cable could turn out to have legitimate gripes, but as I said their claims seem pretty tenuous and reek of just another chapter in this era of junk litigation.

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RE: The whole letter is a good read
By Arctucas on 4/18/2008 7:05:07 AM , Rating: 4
No offense to your father, but my PC 800 surge protector (with the $25,000 connected equipment guarantee) was ~$50.

If someone lets Best Buy rip them off, I would not necessarily blame the product manufacturer. And it is not only Monster. Belkin, IPSG, and others are typically sold by brick & mortar stores for several times the price you can buy the identical item for over the internet.

For example, I needed a USB cable for my printer. Most of the B&M stores I checked wanted $30 - $40 for a six foot cable! I bought one from a webstore for $12.

While I do not defend Monster Cable's marketing tactics, it it up to the consumer to do the research. If you get ripped off, it is generally your fault, not the manufacturer or retailer.

RE: The whole letter is a good read
By Enigmatic on 4/18/2008 3:38:40 PM , Rating: 2
None taken. My dad is obviously not very tech savvy. Still, since Best Buy employees are not paid on commission (like Future Shop), I think it's somewhat stupid for them to push more expensive products on their customers. But I've never worked at Best Buy, so I'm not sure if there is some incentive for them to rip you off if you are unsure about what you are buying.

As a side note (that's kind of funny), apparently this Monster surge protector eliminates "static" coming from the electrical outlet and prolongs the life of your television and makes sure your getting a clean signal for the "best quality picture". Typical Monster bs.

RE: The whole letter is a good read
By oab on 4/18/2008 6:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
They aren't paid on commission, but they need to push high-margin products in order to be given more hours a week. More margin earned = more hours for you. You need to be really good to get full-time employment there, and by good, I mean sleazy.

By onwisconsin on 4/18/2008 11:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
As a side note (that's kind of funny), apparently this Monster surge protector eliminates "static" coming from the electrical outlet and prolongs the life of your television and makes sure your getting a clean signal for the "best quality picture". Typical Monster bs.

Ha! I remember than when our family bought our home theater setup their demonstration. Completely forgot about that before you brought that. We have some of the monster cables too. Pretty sad that none of us (this was about 3 years back) never thought of just searching for reviews instead of trusting what the stores said...

RE: The whole letter is a good read
By oab on 4/18/2008 6:51:48 PM , Rating: 1
You got ripped off with that USB cable, a quick search for "USB Cable" on ebay yeilds dozens of results with the cable for $0.01, and shipping for $2.99.

You paid $7 too much.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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