Monster Cable Caves Again, With Oddly Worded Apology

from the monster-bullies dept

Well, it looks like after years and years of articles highlighting what an incredible trademark bully Monster Cable has been, the company has finally realized that maybe (sorta) it needs to reconsider its strategy (maybe). At least that’s what I take from the news that the company has settled its trademark dispute with Monster Mini Golf that got plenty of attention when the Monster Mini Golf folks took to eBay to get out the word about how they were being bullied.

At some point, Monster Cable realized it was losing the PR battle (really badly) in this whole thing, and tried a new tack, claiming that it was just a small family business doing what it was required to do to defend its trademarks. Then it offered up a bogus “deal” whereby it pulled the lawsuit it had filed but still demanded that Monster Mini Golf pay it to “license” the name, though it promised to donate the money to charity. That’s emotional bribery.

Either way, the matter was settled as 2008 came to a close when the top two folks from each company held a conference call without their lawyers present (initially, the lawyers were there, but they kicked them out). Monster Mini Golf can now go ahead with its trademark application and Monster Cable agreed to pay their legal fees. Monster Cable’s CEO even issued an apology (sorta). After talking up how nice it was to work out an amicable deal in person without lawyers, he states:

I will say that this is a landmark kind of situation, as public opinion wins over what is the right thing to do for trademark protection of a famous mark. We have made the decision that public opinion, and that of our valued customers is more important than the letter of the law that requires us to prevent the dilution of our mark risk losing it.

Of course, it’s not a landmark situation at all (even for Monster Cable — who’s been known to be on the receiving end of similar public relations nightmares for similar actions in the past). And, he’s wrong that this is a case where “public opinion wins over what is the right thing to do for trademark protection.” Monster Cable’s overly aggressive attempts to block pretty much anyone from using “Monster” are not “the right thing to do” — they’re abuse of the trademark process. Public opinion was right: Monster Cable was being a bully, and it only backed down because public opinion made that clear. It’s pretty weak in an apology for Monster Cable to act magnanimous for doing what the company should have done in the first place (i.e., leave Monster Mini Golf alone).

As for “the letter of the law” that only requires Monster Cable to police the use of its trademark in cases where there’s likely to be confusion or dilution in its areas of business. There is simply no way that any reasonable person (let alone the moron in a hurry who has shown up at various trademark lawsuits) would confuse Monster Cable with Monster Mini Golf — and thus the law does not require that Monster Cable stop others from using the word in those cases. While it’s nice that Monster Cable has finally come to its senses, the real question is how it acts the next time this happens — and given Monster Cable’s history, it’s likely to happen again soon.

Filed Under:
Companies: monster cable, monster mini golf

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Comments on “Monster Cable Caves Again, With Oddly Worded Apology”

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40 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bad Advice?

I doubt it, as aggressive BS is part of Monster Cables’s business MO as well: they’re selling audio cables to gullible suckers at such an inflated price that it should be considered a fraud. People, there is NO sound difference whatsoever between the cheapest possible cable and Monster’s most expensive ones.

shawn says:

Re: Re: Bad Advice?

Um, sorry to say but you are wrong. Audio does sound better with larger higher quality cables. you cant tell because you do not have a sounds system that can take advantage. I agree that Monster Cable is way too $$$, and there are cheaper alternatives, but pick up a physics or electronics book and it will explain the difference.

Kevin says:

Re: Re: Bad Advice?

People, there is NO sound difference whatsoever between the cheapest possible cable and Monster’s most expensive ones.

That’s not true, especially when dealing with analog cables. But what I will give you is that there are very reasonably priced analog cables available for 1/10th the price of a Monster cable that provide sound quality that 99% of people would not be able to distinguish from a Monster cable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Bad Advice?

Sure, perpetuate the myth… Are you an Monster Cable employee, by any chance? Or another one of those deluded audiophiles? In any case, just like someone said above, there are laws of physics that explain why what you claim is wrong. And there’s even been some double-blind studies to prove it (as if it was needed).

But no, you people keep falling for it; just like some people keep getting scammed by 419ers, I guess…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Bad Advice?

So you believe that there’s no quality difference in anything and that cheaper is always better? At least that’s what it sounds like.

Kevin is absolutely correct regarding analog and finding decent cables for next to nothing.

But no, morons like you seem to continually like to be jack asses.

Joe Smith says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Bad Advice?

So you believe that there’s no quality difference in anything and that cheaper is always better? At least that’s what it sounds like.

Even a moron in a hurry would not think that anyone had said that. The specific discussion is about cables and HDMI cables in particular.

The fact is that overcharging for fancy audio cables that do no better than lamp cord has been going on for decades. With the coming of digital there is even less prospect of a meaningful quality difference.

Cable Guy says:

The well is drying up

These licensing agreements are the only future source of income for Monster Cable. With HDMI being the defacto hi-def cable, they no longer offer any sort of edge. A digital signal is the same no matter what cable it goes across, so their $100 HDMI 1.3 cable will give people the exact same image quality as a Wal-Mart $30 HDMI 1.3 cable.

Clay says:

Re: Re: The well is drying up

There are half a dozen cable brands far more superior to Monster for instruments. Hell, making your own is DIRT cheap and VERY easy to do. You’ll end up with a much better quality cable, and the skills to recognize when a cable is going bad, and you’ll know how to fix it instead of buying another one.

Dirk Belligerent (user link) says:

Re: The well is drying up

“their $100 HDMI 1.3 cable will give people the exact same image quality as a Wal-Mart $30 HDMI 1.3 cable”

Or a $3 Monoprice.com 1.3 HDMI cable.

Whenever I see people at Beast Buy reaching for the obscenely overpriced Monster stuff, I just want to scream. I’ve half-pondered buying a trunk load of cables from Monoprice and hanging out in the home theater dept. of Beast Buy and whenever someone looks at the cables, whispering, “Psssst. Meet me in the parking lot and I’ll sell you the same cable for 1/3 the price.” They save $60; I make $27; everyone wins!

Kevin says:

Re: The well is drying up

A digital signal is the same no matter what cable it goes across, so their $100 HDMI 1.3 cable will give people the exact same image quality as a Wal-Mart $30 HDMI 1.3 cable.

A $30 HDMI cable? Seriously? You got ripped off. I bought three HDMI cables for $39 a few months ago and they work fine, and they weren’t even the cheapest.

Matt says:

oh, whoops

Hey Mike,

you missed the other part of them having their monster heads up their monster asses:

Where in the same letter, the monster guy goes: “”Through the many emails and communications on line, clearly we have been made out to be the bad guy. It’s unfortunate some people feel this way, because we really feel the opposite….”

Yeah, cry me a freakin river. Can someone please blow up monster cable already? World would be better off without the damn company.

BillDivX says:

Monster is a monster

“So how come they didnt go after the brand Monster Drink thats evem more famous the they are?”

I believe they did…and I think that world-wide Monster cable probably dwarfs Monster Energy drinks. I also believe that they got smacked down on that case as well.

“I will never buy a monster cable. Absolutley over priced and a bully to top it. shamefull.”

I can’t do anything but agree there. Speaker cables? maybe…but what they do is probably still overkill. Guitar cables? no. Take five seconds to learn about the electrical properties of audio signals (look up impedance), and you’ll realize that they’ve sold you $5.00 of shielding (at a premium of $15) to protect from interference that is impossible according to the laws of physics.

“Is it possible that Monster Cable’s CEO is a (somewhat) victim of overly aggressive, unscrupulous or incompetent, love-to-bill-ya, lawyers whom he (unfortunately) trusts?”

I think that 90% of these cases are exactly that. Having worked for companies that were sensitive to protecting themselves well legally, I have seen that most executives gain only the requisite cursory education in law. In the case of any complex law, they generally go to their head lawyer and take their advice without question.

I can easily see a CEO asking “Is this something that can threaten our trademark?”, and being told by the lawyer, either for greed or incompetence, that “Yes, it can”. The executives then go off on a campaign of terror, trying to enforce trademark protection in an area where the law never actually granted it.

It looks like in this case, even though the CEO recognized that his lawyers actions were harming public opinion, he still took their bogus legal advice hook, line and sinker.

Cable Guy says:

Isn't it a good thing?

Even if I was a super moron in a super hurry and somehow thought Monster Cable and Monster Mini Golf were the same company, isn’t that kind of a good thing? People love mini golf. Also, by licensing names to companies, aren’t they opening the door for really bad publicity?

Like let’s say there’s a company called Monster Toxic Waste Disposal and they lose their name to Monster Cable and they license it back to them (which is what they do). Then, MTWD has a huge accident and kills an entire elementary school full of kids. The news could say (and they would although pretty incorrectly) “After an explosion at Monster Toxic Waste Disposal, a Monster Cable company, 274 barrels of toxic waste travelled a mile and a half and into an elementary school, killing 634 children and 47 faculty.”

Now, if they left them alone, they would have the money to stay safe and no one would even consider they were related in any way.

Rob (profile) says:

Fraud

Kind of off topic, but why has Monster cable not been sued yet for their fraudulent advertising for HDMI cables, wherein they state that the more expensive cable offers a higher quality picture when this is very easily provably false? I mean for the analog cables the claim is more or less equally fraudulent, but the higher quality cable can be shown in a laboratory to preserve the signal better (albeit imperceptibly so, even to trained professionals). With HDMI, you are transmitting a digital signal, which either gets there, or it doesn’t. The highest bitrate you can get off of a Blu Ray disc is still under 50 Mbps, whereas a low end HDMI cable is capable of transfers rates 100x above that, at roughly 5 Gbps. It can be provably demonstrated that you will get bit for bit exactly the same thing through a $3 cable from MonoPrice versus a Monster cable that costs 50 times more! The people at Monster CLEARLY know this, but are choosing to speak deliberate lies in their advertising. How has there not been a lawsuit over this yet? Sorry, I know it’s off topic but I really think that further illustrates the kind of people we are talking about here, their wicked ways do not begin and end in the trademark realm, it is pervasive throughout their entire business strategy.

Boris says:

For digital cables, there is 0% probability of any difference whatsoever, this is scientifically and mathematically provable, unless of course your cable is such a piece of trash that you are getting drop out. Digital is a series of 1’s and 0’s that either get to the destination or they don’t, there is no in between. Oh, and there is also no such thing as an HDMI 1.3 cable either, that is also marketing hype. If it says HDMI 1.3 on the package that simply means that it has been rated and tested for HDMI 1.3, but an older cable will do just fine. HDMI 1.2 and 1.1 cables that can be purchased dirt cheap on the ‘net have transfer rates well above and beyond the maximum you could possibly be transferring from a Blu Ray disc.

As for analog, there really is no appreciable difference. Sure, you can point out different resistances and capacitances at the fundamental level proving that a higher quality cable offers a more pure signal, but there is no way you can hear the difference. I would put money on not one single person here being able to pick out a super high end, audiophile grade cable from the cheapest cable I can find in a blind A-B test. The link attached is a prime example of this in action, if you spend a lot of money on cables you are ripping yourself off.

http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/03/audiophiles-cant-tell-the-difference-between-monster-cable-and/

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