Perhaps Not So Evil Monster (Formerly: Evil Monster)

In my last post I issued a tepid condemnation of Monster Cables’ litigation practices. This evening I followed a link in the show notes for Dave Hitt’s podcast to get a sense of how much Monster Cables seems to be focused on trademark litigation. The link he gave didn’t seem to work beyond page 1, so here’s a slightly different link to a list from the US Patents and Trademarks Office of trademark disputes in which Monster Cables is usually the plaintiff. As it says on the top of the page, when I conducted a search with ‘Monster Cables’ as the ‘Party’, ‘Number of results: 100+’.

Amongst the products and uses Monster Cables has sued over: Monster Boys Club, Monster Fleece, Monster Wheelbarrow (these three from page 10), Monster Energy (from a beverage company, so I guess we’re talking a drink, p.11), the Discovery Channel TV show ‘Monster Garage‘ (p.12), the PS2 game ‘War of the Monsters‘, and even a Scooby-Doo cartoon that dared to have ‘Monster’ in its title  (both p.16).

I’ve got to say, all this stuff makes me want to tell anyone interested in high-end cables that, even if they believe that they offer some benefit, they should choose a brand that doesn’t sue TV shows for using a common word.

I shall draw these two posts to the attention of the Australian distributor for Monster Cables — a company, incidentally, that distributes some truly fine audio equipment — and post what response it may have.

Update (12:24pm):

Thanks to my brother, I now have more info, and have accordingly changed the title to this post. On the evidence, it seems that Monster Cable seems for the most part to be vigorously engaging in rather distasteful corporate activity, rather than being the spawn of the devil. And if you can believe the company’s main man, it is required to do this because of various government rules.

His response to earlier accusations is here. I delved a little further into the US Patents and Trademarks Office’s database, specifically, the Scooby-Doo dispute. In that one it turns out that the Scooby-Doo makers were trying to have the title to their video release granted trademark status. Monster apparently opposed this, and the Office finally rejected the claim (technically, Hanna-Barbera Productions ‘voluntarily’ abandoned the claim after being told by the office that it wouldn’t get the trademark). Sensibly, the law does not permit a trademark to be granted to a single work.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be quite a bit of overreach. See, for example, this response by Blue Jeans Cables to a cease-and-desist from Monster Cables.

Update 2 (2:30pm):

An interesting post here — unverified, so take with a grain of salt, although it conforms to my own biases — indicating that listeners could not hear any difference between Monster speaker cables and straightened and soldered wire coathangers (go to the last big paragraph).

A better way into the Blue Jeans Cable response to Monster’s Cease and Desist and cough up money letter is via Blue Jeans’ own website, because there you can also see Monster’s original demand.

Having a little look around its website, Blue Jeans Cable seems to be a rather good business. It sells cables, of course, but at prices that seem quite reasonable. It also seems pretty knowledgeable, with a bunch of informative and accessible articles on cable issues. It seems to completely avoid any form of mysticism in its descriptions and discussions.

Finally, as far as I could find, there appears to have been no response to Blue Jeans Cable’s forthright rejection — over two years ago — to Monster Cables’ claims. That would raise the suspicion that Monster Cables knew its claims to be without merit at the time of sending the letter. If so, that would tend to nudge the company, in my view, a little closer to the ‘evil’ end of the continuum.

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