Monster Cable: We're Not Trademark Monsters (TM)

from the of-course-that's-what-they-say dept

We’ve covered Monster Cable’s long and illustrious attempts to abuse trademark law in trying to prevent absolutely anyone else from using the term “Monster,” no matter how unrelated it is from Monster Cable’s business. For the most part, the company has stayed quiet when accused of being a trademark bully, but after Monster Mini Golf did a good job whipping up public support via an eBay auction, Monster Cable has apparently started responding, by claiming it’s not the trademark bully everyone makes it out to be:

Regardless of what false representations have been circulated about Monster, we are not a faceless corporate giant out to squash legitimate business concerns and rising entrepreneurs. We are in fact, a family-owned company that relies heavily on our brand name and reputation in order to continue serving our customers. We have always tried to provide our customers with the highest performance products at an affordable price.

While we are best known for our cable products, we also manufacture high performance accessories in business areas ranging in home theater, computing, gaming, portable entertainment and power management. To protect these business areas, we have sought and been awarded trademarks for each respective category. In addition to the areas above, in the past 30 years, we have also expanded the categories including sports and other lifestyle ventures. According to the trademark law, we must enforce our marks or we will lose them and they will become generic.

We were trying our best to avoid the lawsuit, and we are trying our best to settle the lawsuit.

There is a lot to respond to here, and we’ll let folks in the comments respond to the questions over “affordable price” since Monster is notorious for being quite high priced. However, I’m not sure why it matters that it’s a family-owned company. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s being overly aggressive and abusing the purpose of trademark law. It tries to paint its activities as being perfectly normal, but that’s simply not true. We see a lot of trademark lawsuits around here, and Monster is definitely a lot more combative on trademark than most companies.

As for the claims that because its products work in other areas, that these trademark suits are legit — that’s simply incorrect. What a trademark covers is specific to what the companies does, and the tests concern whether or not there’s customer confusion or brand dilution, and anyone would be pretty hard pressed to claim that Monster Mini Golf confuses anyone or damages Monster Cable’s brand name in any way.

As for the claim that it must enforce or lose the trademarks, this is a common myth about trademark law. It is true that you need to enforce the uses of the mark — but only in those direct markets. In the case of Monster Mini Golf or the deer salt lick, such usage will have no impact on making Monster Cable’s brand generic and either they know it, or they’re getting terrible legal advice. Tellingly, Monster Cable does not respond to the charges many have leveled that after either blocking a trademark application or suing others, Monster Cable then licenses back the Monster name to those who it stopped. As such it becomes pretty clear that it’s not at all about stopping the name’s usage and that the usage is clearly not confusing. So, Monster Cable may not consider itself a trademark monster, but it should show that with actions, not words.

Update: Ah, well, great. Monster Cable is now claiming that it’s dropped the lawsuit against Monster Mini-Golf but is still demanding a licensing fee of $100/month, while claiming that it will contribute that and its own matching funds to charity. While it’s great that Monster has dropped the lawsuit, it’s ridiculous that the company is still demanding a license fee. Also, the company should at least admit that the only reason it’s dropping this is all of the negative publicity generated by its heavy handed attempt to attack a business in a totally unrelated market.

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Companies: monster cable

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Comments on “Monster Cable: We're Not Trademark Monsters (TM)”

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Michael B (profile) says:

Noel Lee: Monster Liar

Yes, the Head Monster lies through his monster teeth. His statement that Monster Cable isn’t a trademark bully is a monster misrepresentation. His monster ego has given his monster head delusions. So far, I’ve used their trademark 7 times… how much will they sue me for?

The problem is, they know full well that if their litigation actually landed in court that they would not only lose, but become the laughing stock of the legal world. So, they threaten to take people to court, which would cost their so-called infringers tons of money to defend. They are just like the MPAA and RIAA in that they abuse the courts for their own advantage.

Sorry… if this monster a**hole is allowed to continue, what’s next? Apple Inc. suing fruit growers, Mott’s, and other non-associated businesses for using the word “apple”? It’s a dangerous precident. Noel Lee should be locked up in a rubber room.

Michael B (profile) says:

Re: Noel Lee: Monster Liar

By the way, I am aware that Apple Inc. and Apple Corp (the Beatles’ label) have litigated, but at least they both are music-oriented. Suing a mini-golf chain for using the word “Monster” is monstrously insane. Rumor has it that Disney did not produce a sequel to its hit “Monsters, Inc.” because sh*t-for-brains Lee sued them… anyone know if that’s true or not?

Chuck D. Money (user link) says:

Re: "Harassment"

Yes and no.

No, you cannot file a lawsuit or even a counter suit for frivolous lawsuits. You can file a motion in a lawsuit asking that another party pay attorneys fees, but beyond that, you cannot get gobs of money from them, only costs. If you’re a millionaire CEO, maybe you can, since onne of the “costs” you can file for is time missed from work.

That said, yes, you can file a complaint with the state bar association in the state that their lawyer practices. That can result in anything from a note in ones file to a temporary suspension or fine to all-out disbarment. The down side is that this hurts the lawyer, but not the client, i.e. Monster’s lawyer but not Monster themselves. If you do this long enough you could eventually give Monster a “kiss of death” reputation and no lawyer will agree to take their cases, but you’re going to have to get quite a few lawyers disbarred to do so, and most of them will be good, honest people (as much as lawyers can be) who don’t deserve that.

My mom is a lawyer now and was once a judge. I am a certified paralegal. As much as I hate Monster (with quite a vengeance) the only good way to defeat people like this is to simply boycott their products. Go play a round of Monster mini-golf and then go straight to Best Buy and purchase a $200 surround sound system – not made by Monster. That’s how you stick it to these people, because there;s nothing the average Joe can do. If you want to, just send a $200 check to Monster mini-golf’s lawyers to help pay their legal fees. Something like that will work, but there is no effective counter within the legal system.

some old guy (user link) says:

The Simple Truth

The company has handed over the reins to its lawyers, who think every marketplace decision should be handled in a lawyerly way.

If all you use is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you let your lawyers run your company, everything looks like its solved by lawsuits.

This happens to ALOT of companies lately. The lawyers have run amuk, they are not being restrained as they are intended to be. This is the death of the soul of a company.

Richard Ahlquist (profile) says:


I will never buy a Monster Cable Product.

I will never endorse a Monster Cable Product.

I will always downplay the value of a Monster Cable Product compared to its competing products.

There is a difference between vigorously defending your trademark and being a bully. IMHO what they are doing are being a bully, and no amount of corporate spin will correct this persons opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Simple

I already have vowed the same boycott of Monster, but not for the bullying. Their products, while being high quality, certainly do not justify their price when compared to products of equal performance. DON’T BUY THE INVISIBLE CLOTHES!!! I know that new tv cost a ton of money but if you spend a ton on a cable you are a fool too easily parted from his/her money. /rant

mark says:

Re: Simple

How about a public boycott?

contrary to what some people say, cables do vary in quality and good cables can and do make a difference.

however, with an annual purchase budget of about $5,000.00 for MAINTENANCE items, I have totally sworn to never again purchase another Monster ™ product.

I would strongly urge any other musician or studio owner to do the same, and to let Monster know of your decision.

I honestly don’t care if this manages to change them in any way (probably not). I just do not enjoy the sensation of fecal matter when I handle my audio equipment.

Anonymous Coward says:

I suggest everyone here go to and fill out a support form, as I did, telling Monster that you will never again purchase their products due to their abuse of patent law. See the link below to their support form.

We the consumer have the awesome power to determine a companies fate. Just look at Circuit City. Their stock and sales have taken a nose dive since laying off experienced workers and hiring cheap labor back. They are quite possibly going to go out of business and I hope they do. This is what is possible when consumers stick together.

Gunnar says:

Not all parts of the company are terrible

“Use cheap electric cable instead of Monster Cable’s expensive version of cheap electric cable. You won’t be able to tell the difference between them. Hell, you can’t even hear the difference between monster cable and wire clothes hangers.”

That’s true of digital, but not analog.

Their instrument cables have an exceptional lifetime warranty. Break one, bring it into a store that sells the cables (like a Guitar Center) and they’ll trade a new one for your broken one with no questions asked.

Gunnar says:

Re: Re: Not all parts of the company are terrible

“I’d be willing to charge you half the price of the cable and *still* offer a lifetime, full-replacement warranty on the coat hangers.”

If you can tie enough coathangers together to reach from a guitar to an amp, I’d take you up on that.

Instrument cables aren’t digital. The only cables where it makes no difference between the high- and low-end cables are when that signal is digital.

For analog signals, like instrument cables, the cable can make a huge difference. And Monster makes pretty good instrument cables. You may not think the premium for a worry-free warranty is worth it, but it can be a godsend to touring bands.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re: Not all parts of the company are terrible

One cannot tell the difference between a $100 Monster Cable and the wire coat hangers on a $10 amp. One would need probably a $20,000+ system to hear it. And once it gets that high the people who wire it make their own cables that are better than Monster.

Digital connections are funny as well. I saw Monster HDMI cables for $120. I’m using the one I found on Amazon for $10 with shipping.

Maxwell Smart says:

Re: Not all parts of the company are terrible

Their instrument cables have an exceptional lifetime warranty. Break one, bring it into a store that sells the cables (like a Guitar Center) and they’ll trade a new one for your broken one with no questions asked.

I’d be willing to charge you half the price of the cable and *still* offer a lifetime, full-replacement warranty on the coat hangers.

fprintf says:

Re: Not all parts of the company are terrible

Absolutely. Their instrument cables are awesome. They are really thick and soft, making them easy to handle and easy to lay wherever you need them. As for sound, I can’t tell the difference, but the other qualities more than make up for the 2x price. ($40 for a cable that ordinarily goes for $25 with similar features)

Matt says:

dropping case is not innocence

What’s not getting coverage (and I don’t know if it’s going on) is that just because the case is dropped doesn’t mean monster minigolf can’t countersue for damages (and frivolous lawsuit) anyway.

Just boycott monster. Anyone who buys that stuff is paying extra for nothing, and we all know that (and many studies have been made to show that)

James (profile) says:

Has anyone sued them?

What I don’t get is that with all the bad publicity, can’t any of these companies sue Monster Cable for damaging their name brand?

Sue them before being sued by them!

If they have all these “products” in all these various categories and some of these monster companies have been around longer then them, sue ’em!

I hate frivolous lawsuits but Monster Cable is being a dick. It’s the only way they’ll learn. It’s the only thing they understand.

some guy says:

Check out what this guy wrote in an earlier post. Its in response to MC trying to use charity as a way of pushing people around. What kind of people would do this?

This is classic –

Mr. Lee,
First let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a former United States Marine and war veteran. I served with the Marines honorably for 11 years. I am very difficult to offend. You just offended me. Now let me tell you how. I will do this in such a way that is easy to understand and absorb.

Here is what you wrote;
“The sentiment of our customers wins over our rights to protect the brand.”
“This lawsuit admittedly has caused so much misguided ill will amongst our customers, that we have no choice but to give up on it, and along with it our rights to have a judge or jury decide this conflict.”

Here is what I have to say about this;
As a person who is willing to die for the rights of all Americans, it is disappointing to notice how carelessly you claim to give up your rights. I am a humble student of the U.S. Constitution. I don’t remember anything that states that a person must give up their own rights if a person of an opposing view expresses their own. I realize that the freedom of speech does not always work in your favor all the time. But, to imply that free speech forced you to give up your rights is simply careless.

Here is what you wrote;
Monster will still owns the trademarks granted by the trademark office for which we offer a license for the use of them to Monster Mini Golf for a minimal royalty of $100 per month per franchise. Monster (us) will donate and match the royalty proceeds to the following charities that Monster has supported.

The Elf foundation; Creating Rooms of Magic:

Seg4Vets: Segways for disabled veterans

Here is my opinion;
How dare you! I am sure that these are wonderful charities. But to use sick children and wounded war veterans (my brothers & sisters) as a ploy for your own selfish cause is beyond low. To use others misfortune to “protect your trademark” sickens me. THESE ARE PEOPLE SIR, NOT PAWNS THAT YOU CAN USE TO MANIPULATE OTHERS!

Don’t even get me started on how you are taking advantage of our legal system for your own benefit. Once I calm myself down, I will make more arguments in regards to the actual case.

Good day,
– Manny

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently contrary to coventional wisdom, Monster in involved in a large variety of business beyond merely cables and electronic accessories. Their numerous trademark registrations and their associated products and services are listed in the lined Monster site.

It it also useful to understand that trademark enforcement embraces to distinct areas, namely “trademark infringement” and “trademark dilution”. The former is associated with the general idea of preventing customer confusion, while the latter is associated with preventing losing the distinctiveness of a trademark. My use of trademark should be understood to also include service marks, the former pertaining to products and the latter to services.

The above is not to take a position on any of the suits that have been or will be filed, but merely to point out that there is much more to these issues that the “moron in a hurry” test that is frequently bandied about on this site.

Anonymous Coward says:

Monster Cable? Why

I can think of very few instances where Monster Cables are beneficial in a home environment. The only time you will really benefit from the extra shielding and gold conductors is if you are running extra log lengths of cable, are pushing crazy current through the rest of the cables behind your TV, or live in a warehouse with a bunch of machines running. Just go to Radio Shack, or better yet learn to fit connectors and buy commercial grade from the spool. Don’t fund this dingaling’s legal fund by buying his propagandized over priced stuff.

Ben says:

What it looks like they are up to

It seems that Monster Cable is after the “sports” angle. According to the Patent & Trademark Office website, they registered Monster Sport for “entertainment services in the nature of a television series featuring a wide variety of athletic, outdoor, and adventure activities.”

This would be, among others, mini golf, baseball, and hunting, which explains the opposition to the Green Monster, Monster Park, and the Monster Salt Lick. By painting a wide stroke with the trademark application, they are (arguably) showing that they have legal standing in the sports-related lawsuits.

However, part of registration requires actual use in commerce. I am hard pressed to recall any work that Monster Cable might have done in televised sports. But, if there is a Monster cable connecting television equipment at a sporting event, that hardly shows ownership of the sports domain.

Incidentally, Monster Cable says that the mini putt-putt does not own the trademark, but Monster Family Entertainment Centers is registered for “entertainment services, namely, a glow in the dark miniature golf course, video game arcade, redemption game arcade, namely, an amusement arcade featuring games that dispense tickets which may be redeemed for prizes, and conducting birthday parties.”

Anonymous Coward says:

A reasonable change to trademark law

“Monster” should not be trademarked. “Monster Cable” would need to be the trademark.

One reasonable change to trademark law would be to diminish the scope of the trademark when a common word is used. Monster was a word and established as a name on many, many businesses. If a company wants to use such a word in its name then the law should be rewritten to tightly limit the trademark to just that business and word combination that is actually registered.

Michael B (profile) says:


It’s beginning to look like Noel Lee is guilty of the trademark equivalent of cybersquatting… registering any trademark you can regardless of whether you plan on using it. What happens next… Monster Medical? Monster Dairy?

There are cases where the courts have thrown out trademarks because they are everyday dictionary words. Maybe this should be challenged in court and Lee could lose ALL of his Monster trademarks. The word “monster” is not a unique moniker, like Kleenix or Xerox or Exxon; in the case of Kleenix and Xerox, those companies have won suits because they wanted to fight the dilution of their trademarks, but to simply state that the word “monster” is trademarkable means that any dictionary word can be made a trademark. Next, we’ll get sued over the words “gigantic” and “giant” because some numbskull wants to trademark them. This is a horrible precident, and Noel Lee needs to be stopped.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree with #27 and #28 completely.

To #33; the big wigs may have some kind of deal worked out but apparently the BigBox workers don’t know about it. I went to 3 different Best Buys when I was buying a 52″ LCD, stand and audio equipment to be used for presentations within my company. Every Best Buy worker I talked to said not to buy the monster cable because it was 4x the price and of no better quality than the other cabling available there.

moondookie says:

monster cables

I bought a lcd tv january this year, went to cucuit city to buy a hdmi cable. since i was in ahyrry to get the tv up and running i bought a rocketfish 4′ hdmi cable for $49 because it was the chaepest one. i saw the monster cable offerings as well…$79, for a 3′ and $149 f0r A 6′. I THOUGHT WHAT A RIP OFF!!
i ahev since bought 3 hdmi cable from ebay, 2 6 footers and a 9 foot hdmi to dvi cable . the most i paid for each was $15 shipping included.
point is…the generic hdmi cables ARE WORKING EXCELLENT!!
screw monster cable, guess i am going to get sued because i drink monster energys and post to my site that “i get all wired up on MONSTERS and play gears of war 2 all night”!!

Rhiadon says:


I’ve always wondered how their cables actually manage to make digital signals better. I’ve never been able to find any technical or scientific reason behind their assertions that they HDMI cables provide superior picture quality. The only thing that my fellow electrical engineers and I can come up with is that they don’t use 0’s and 1’s but rather -1’s and 2’s so it’s one better.

I wont argue about the analog realm because that’s not my area, but we all know a 1 is a 1 and a 0 is a 0. My $5 HDMI cable from monoprice transfers digital 1’s just as well as this $399 HDMI cable offering from Monster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: $100/per franchise

Personally, I am at a loss to explain the licensing arrangement. It does not seem to comport with any of the basic principles of trademark licensing under existing trademark law. Since I do know that counsel for Monster is a very capable attorney, there is obviously missing information that is needed for one to fully understand the situation.

Nick (profile) says:

I have $1000 worth of Monster cables in my studio that I purchased many years ago. I love them, but I do not share their opinion that they need to sue or license the use anyone who uses the word Monster in a trademark. They should not have been granted a trademark on the word Monster by itself, only on “Monster Cable.” In his video, Noel Lee even tries to make the case that only he can use the name Monster for mints that he “invented!” I hope this case sheds some light on this subject and trademark laws get reformed.

Stanley says:

I am an engineer myself, Monster cable is just OEM from China factories which make generic cable. Monster Cable had done a good job in market segmentation, making 1 top qualtiy model to distinguish itself. 99% of the models are excatly same as the no brand one.

Plus, for those who are older 35, your ears cannot tell the sound difference anyway. Stop buying from Monster Cable, he is just axxhole.

MONSTER DAVE "The Dick" says:


No worries money can’t keep him alive. The old bitch is about three steps in the grave anyway, that I am sure it will be used as a human waste dump. Monster means “Big” and that is the bottom line. Descriptive by trademark law. He is just an idiot acting like a complete jerk off. Pay day will come 10 fold when he meets his maker.

The only thing he is known for is to con people into buying coat hangers with plastic coatings known as Monster Cable and the company that falls under the violation of the RICO act. Soon someone will pull the trigger here you wait and see.

Merry Christmas “NOEL”
Now isn’t that sweet what his mother named him, What a homo!

Can’t stop the Monster you have created that means the most and that is MONSTER DAVE the Dick, the one that speaks for all the people you jerk off.

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