Monster Cable Keeps On Suing; Asks Court To Block Company From Attending CES

from the seriously,-monster? dept

By now, you must know that Monster Cable has a rather terrible reputation for threatening and suing all sorts of other companies over intellectual property issues -- often, it seems, with very little merit (remember when they went after "Monster Golf"? good times...). The latest is that Monster Cable, along with Beats Electronics, are going after competitor Fanny Wang Headphones, claiming both patent and trade dress infringement, because Fanny Wang made headphones that have some similarities in style. The patent (D552,077), by the way, is not a utility patent but a design patent, which is very narrowly focused.

In reading through the actual lawsuit (embedded below), the basic complaint appears to be that Fanny Wang's headphones look pretty similar to the Beats headphones -- but that's how competition works. Beats/Monster seem to take particular umbrage to the fact that all over their website Fanny Wang compares their headphones to Beats and gently chides Beats for not being the same quality. Again, this is how competition works. You see what works and you build something better. In fact, this point seems to undermine Beats/Monsters whole case: since Fanny Wang is making pretty clear that its products are different than Beats'. The response from Monster/Beats should be to keep building something better as well.

As you'd expect, Beats/Monster also demand all sorts of things (treble damages, destruction of all product, etc.). The complaint also points out that Fanny Wang is planning to be presenting its headphones at CES in early January, implicitly asking the court to stop Fanny Wang from appearing at the show. Remember, kids, the lesson of the day is "why compete, if you can have the government block your competition?"

Not surprisingly, Fanny Wang is using this as a chance to mock Monster for its litigious history and also for promoting its own product. The company's letter in response to the lawsuit (also embedded below) is relatively amusing, mocking the company for not even trying out their headphones to find out about the superior sound quality:
In short, Fanny Wang has no desire to infringe on your patents or trade dress or be associated with Monster’s sound quality. Instead, Fanny Wang desires to compete by building a superior product marketed under our different and innovative brand: Fanny Wang. In fact, the comparisons that you make reference to in your complaint and letter, clearly demonstrate Fanny Wang’s desire to differentiate itself from Monster & Beats products by identifying differences and allowing the consumer to make its own determinations. Such passing references to competitors are routine in the marketplace and are clearly allowed under both state and federal trademark laws.
Separately, the company notes that tons of vendors in the space have similarly designed headphones because that's the trend in the marketplace. It also mocks Beats/Monster for claiming that the packaging of the two sets of headphones are the same by stating: "Have you even looked at our site?" and posting the following comparison:




Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 5:28pm

    Warning.

    Wrong link closure detected!

    The link starts at:

    "The patent (D552,077), by the way, is not a utility patent but a design patent, which is very narrowly focused. "

    And goes to the end of the article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 5:28pm

    In other words, they're acting like monsters?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 5:48pm

    Another reason to boycott Monster Cable and shop for cables and other such products online (where they're inherently cheaper).

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 6:12pm

    -_-'

    Might've been better to go with "Huang" there...

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 6:34pm

    I'm sorry I can't take this article seriously when the phrase "Fanny Wang" is repeated so often.

     

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  6.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    Re:

    There's not much need to boycott someone whose business model is making superior quality cables in the age of digital. Back when things were analog, they had a debatable point about their cables giving better quality sound. In the world of digital, it's perfection or nothing. Their cables make not a damned bit of difference.

    Essentially their business model is if we hype something enough, stupid people will give us money. OK, maybe we do need to boycott them. That's a pretty sound business model.

     

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  7.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Re:

    Maybe not but still... Best company name ever.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re:

    This has been excellent advertising for fanny wang, I wont be forgetting their name in a long time. and every time I hear it, I will think fondly of it.

     

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  9.  
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    Wayne Myer (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:26pm

    Dear Monster Cable...

    I have recently been thinking about buying a new pair of headphones. Thank you for putting Fanny Wang on my radar by way of your lawsuit and assuring that Beats headphones are completely out of the running for any consideration.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Dear Monster Cable...

    I just wonder just how ugly the Doctor Dre headphones must be to be entirely concealed in the package. If you don't show me the product it must be crap.

     

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  11.  
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    Avatar28 (profile), Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Re: Dear Monster Cable...

    Here you go. There are some GENERAL similarities but they really don't look all that much alike beyond the general curvature of the sides of the headbands.
    http://marcustroy.com/gadgets/gadgets-monster-x-dr-dre-headphones/

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    scott217, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:38pm

    sound

    All legal stuff aside, I tried Fanny Wangs at their launch party and they sound really, really good. Much better than Beats.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Max, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:49pm

    Wait! Both seem to have tab thingies on them. Admittedly, one seem to hold it on the rack and the other is for opening; but they both have a box. Wow, am I confused.

     

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  14.  
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    btrussell (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 4:57am

    I think Fanny Wang should have to change their name.

    I keep confusing them with Stinky Dinky™ and I believe the Greeks have the patent on that as the first method of birth control.

    Also, I don't think the Government should be allowed to compete in the free market.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Jmona Reviews, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 7:02am

    Monster is acting like a monster, not news to me.

    Well. I have dealt with Monster Cable before as a costumer and a reviewer. I don't understand who are theytrying to fool here. It's called competition, and forthe record, their headsets are overpriced and cheap in my opinion. What they are doing by suing Fanny Wang is showingonce more their weakness and are afraid that their products stink that ba that Fanny Wang will take then out of business which they probably will, not because the product may seem similar BUT because of it's SUPERIORITY. Am very glad to see that some other company that isn't Monster-Dre it's actually out of the box bringing to the table a different taste in products, perhaps even BETTER costumer service where they treat the costumer with respect. I have been a consumer of Monster Cables products before as well as reviewed one or two products many thought i was lucky to get from them (under $10 prpducts btw, AND they treat the reviewers like garbage may i say) and the costumer service experience I have received is one of the worst. So, long story short. Welcome to the world Fanny Wang! Where have you been all my life? Can't wait to try this!

     

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  16.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 24th, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Re: Dear Monster Cable...

    My friend has a pair of Beats and they are admittedly pretty damn sweet headphones - but now that I know this, I would definitely look to Fanny Wang. In fact, just knowing Beats are associated with Monster Cable is pretty off-putting in itself.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Michael, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Screw monster

    Inferior cables, ridiculous prices... I haven't bought them for years now. I go out of my way to buy cables other than monsters garbage.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Back a step please?

    The bit I have trouble with is not them suing over a patent but the fact they have a patent on the *design* of headphones in the first place. I'll be the 1st to admit I didn't bother to read their patent but looking at the product it looks like a totally obvious way to design a pair of "on ear" headphones - a band over the head, perhaps with some kind of folding mechanism, that attaches to the "cans" that are padded and articulated and in this case the useful though obvious and common feature of not having a built in cable but a 3.5mm jack instead, oh and the mute button and logo.

    My question is, what's not obvious about that that's worthy of a patent in the first place? Or have I tragically misread the purpose of patent to protect non-obvious expressions of invention? Is a "design patent" different?

    As far as I can see they are not significantly different from 20 or 30 other similar style headphones that I could hit with the heave of a well-aimed brick so why do they have a patent over which to sue? Can someone enlighten me?

     

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  19.  
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    Lol Funny, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 5:17pm

    That was the best smack down letter I've ever read in response to a lawsuit. Next to the PirateBay ones ofc.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Back a step please?

    Yes, a design patent is a different beast altogether from utility patents, the types that are the best known. The former accord protection to various design elements associated with an article, whereas the latter accords protection to structual features, methods, compositions of matter, etc.

    Apple, for example, holds numerous design patents directed to its admittedly unique product styling, and to a large degree it is its product styling that serves as a product differentiator from the products of other manufacturers.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2010 @ 9:06pm

    Re:

    Actually, it was a letter created in the heat of passion and without much thought as to what might happen downstream because of it. All I can say at this point is that the letter will not help its case, and, in fact, will likely prove quite hurtful.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    A company gasping at straws because their products aren't purchased anymore except by millionaires and we all how many there are of those.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    A company gasping at straws because their products aren't purchased anymore except by millionaires and we all how many there are of those.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 25th, 2010 @ 9:24pm

    Re: Re:

    All I can say at this point is that the letter will not help its case, and, in fact, will likely prove quite hurtful.

    Why?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    hmm, Dec 26th, 2010 @ 6:57am

    well

    I'm from England and I think monster cable should be suing Fanny Wang not only for the headphones but also for the VERY similiar company names...after all whenever i hear "monster cable" all i can think of is what a bunch of stupid c**ts"....

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    AZ_Dad, Dec 26th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

    I use to work for WalMart electronics dept., having a degree in electronics I always thought Monster Cable was the biggest rip off company ever. I would never recommend there products! Although I no longer work at WalMart, I glad that I left my mark with the employees, no one recommends there products at that WalMart anymore.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    airbrthr (profile), Dec 27th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    Re:

    naw. the best so far was South Butt's filing wrt North Face's infringement action; was frowned on by judge, which tells you it was classic-funny.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100212/1152388149.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Andre, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    Fanny wang headphones

    The acoustics on these are top notch. Simply put the Wangs Look, feel, and sound better. The kicker to me is that one retails for $199 and the other $149.... Can't wait to see what the noise canceling joints sound like,cause they can only get better. If your looking at sound, durability, style and price this is not a hard choice, Wangs! 

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    theorangebox, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:57pm

    monster rippoff cables

    Fuck monster-cables and the over priced junk they peddle!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Snoop, Dec 29th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Fanny wang headphones

    AHAH, you're funny! doing PR work on comments, that's kind of lame isn't it? maybe not as much as copying designs though....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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