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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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By pixelslave on 4/21/2008 5:51:12 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Monster doesn't market to the audiophile community, they market to poor suckers ...


Technically speaking, they market to audiophiles who know nothing, people who think they are audiophiles, or people who wishes they are audiophiles ... Chances are the poor guys who know nothing about audio, and not interested being an audiophile will be turned down by the high prices of Monster Cables. It's the people who claim they know a lot about audio are MC's target audiences. I knew numerous people who insist of buying the most expensive cables and insist that they can hear the difference. I would give them some benefits of doubt in the analog era. But those guys now continue to believe in their religion even when their cables only transmit digital data. I admit that you will still want some quality built-cable, but MC? I guess there are really people who love to pay more to show that they have *THE knowledge*.


"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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