Monster Cable Tosses Lawyers, Settles Suit In Person

Internet protests lead to

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It’s official: There is such a thing as bad publicity. To save damage done to its brand via public outcry, Monster Cable dropped a trademark infringement lawsuit against Monster Mini Golf in a settlement negotiated without lawyers.
Monster Cable Tosses Lawyers, Settles Suit In Person
MMG Cofounder Christina Vitagliano tells WebProNews the principals of the two companies—she, her husband Patrick, Head Monster Noel Lee and his son—ended 2008 by finally agreeing on terms business owners to business owners.

Monster Cable, which has a reputation for lawsuits against companies using the word “monster” in their business names, filed suit against MMG demanding the company abandon its applications for trademark and pay licensing fees.

The Vitaglianos had a compelling story—a couple that once lived in their office to support their fledging business—that they took the Web via their website and via eBay, where they sought donations to their legal fund to defend against a much bigger company. Their story was posted at WebProNews and Consumerist, among many other blogs, and the public outcry began.

Monster Cable was at first defiant, reiterating their right to protect their trademark lest it be diluted and become generic, explaining how they found litigation unpleasant, and portraying the company as the victim of narrative spin. Monster Cable was not, they insisted, a corporate bully.

As the backlash intensified, Monster answered MMG’s stop-the-bully webpage with a “Monster Truth” webpage of its own. On it, Lee made a public proposal. On December 19, Lee said the company had dropped the lawsuit against MMG and would let the trademark office decide, but still would require $100 per month per franchise, which would be donated to charity.

Monster Cable Tosses Lawyers, Settles Suit In Person

Ms. Vitagliano posts what happened next on the company’s Monster Cable saga webpage:

"…on Dec 30th we actually got a phone call from Noel Lee! Patrick, Noel, myself and a pile of attorneys began what looked like a long painful conference call.  Then it occurred to us that this issue was between Noel and Patrick and myself…and we tossed the attorneys off the call.  Aaaah…what a relief….We took the night to regroup and then continued again the next day with Noel and Kevin Lee, Noel’s son and we, as a group, all came to an agreement….

”First of all, we can now register our trademark, Monster Mini Golf! Secondly, Monster Cable (or more importantly, Noel) has agreed to compensate us for legal fees….I think that as some companies grow everything becomes about everything else, except the humans involved. Once in a while, we need to be reminded.”

Vitagliano acknowledged Mr. Lee didn’t legally have to concede as much as he did, and commended him for taking care of the situation himself without attorneys.

Mr. Lee even offered an apology in writing. Some of that letter is to follow:

“I personally want to apologize to all for not having been directly involved in this dispute, and not have taken the opportunity to meet and talk to the both of you to understand the entire situation.

”It’s amazing what happens when people talk without the filter of attorneys speaking for us….

”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….

”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.”


Monster Cable Tosses Lawyers, Settles Suit In Person
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  • Guest

    Hello, is anybody Home?! Sure, Monster Cable dropped their legal paranafish to deal direct. More than likely they were advised that according to TM laws, ther are certain words that if used in a Trademark cannot be ‘singled’ out as an infringement. Meaning, using a name like Monster or Creature, or Fish, etc in a business name is really stretching it. Those are proper ‘names’ and too generically used, long before Monster cable came into existence.

    Also, the main deciding factor is predicated on whether or not the other company using the term Monster in the same line of business, and the answer to that is ‘Please!!’ or ‘No!’, take your choice! One is electronics type the other is sports goods. 2 entirely different, companies, categories and uses. Don’t believe it, just call the TM office headquarters, ask to talk to a TM app rep and tell them you are intending on sending in your application for a name of Creature Tools, for example. Most of the reps there are friendly enough to at least give you an overview of what names can and cannot be TM Protected. You will not be allowed to trademart the term Creature or Monster, but you can when associating it with another word.

    Take Rolls Royce for instance, they have notoriously sued for people using the word ‘Rolls’ in association with a product or service. The word ‘Rolls’ however, is considered as ‘uniique’ by the TM office. So, who do the CEO’s of Monster Cable think they’re fooling, the poor Monster Golf company with little money now thinks that MC is doing a humane gesture by dropping their suit. Sure, a 3 year old could probably kick some pompass butts in court over this one, not to mention their arrogance of attorneys looking to justify huge fees for worthless made up services.

    But, and let’s say but, Monster Cable is setting a good example by showing everyone that YES Horatio, who needs Attorneys, and for that I do say, Good for Monster Cable!!!. Attorneys have developed a huge racket of protection trying to make everything as legally difficult as possible so you have to use their overpriced services.

    It’s not Necessary. all the owners of Monster Golf had to do, was to sign up for one of those Pre-Paid legal services for $10 and $20 a month and they probably would have stopped the whoe arrogant mess!

    However, hats off to ‘both’ of these two combatants as they are sending out some ‘Over due’ messages to overpriced, fee gouging lawyers to go Pound Sand!. This seems to be a rapidly ongoing trend. When company heads can just talk courteously to each other to try and settle the problem on their own, then they are doing the world a big favor by Starving Fee cancerous attorneys and that is tremendous, just go visit http://www.cala.org/ and see how attorneys need to be stopped!Silicon Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

    • Monster Mini Golf

      Hi guys,
      This is Patrick Vitagliano here, (Co-Founder of Monster Mini Golf) and for what it’s worth, I just thought I’d put my two cents in here….

      First, what makes this settlement is different from the ones that came before us are that there is no hokey press release stating some ridiculous untruth like “We are all best friends now”, and there is no “Gag-Order”, suppressing information. We are free to discuss the details of this case, and answer questions from the public, honestly.
      The turning point came when we were on a conference call with Noel and Kevin Lee, and lawyers from both sides, and we were getting absolutely nowhere with lawyers governing every move. About an hour into it, it got so annoying, that someone suggested kicking all the lawyers out, and we all agreed to give that a try. From there, the conversation flowed pretty smoothly, and we were able to speak freely and frankly with Noel and Kevin, and both sides got an understanding of each other’s positions. While we ultimately agreed to disagree on each other’s core positions, it helped GREATLY to speak human-to-human, without lawyers, paving the way to settlement.

      Next, and probably the most noteworthy thing that came out of this, is that Monster Cable has decided to rethink it’s position on trademark defense in the future. This is absolutely the most significant piece of information in this entire ordeal, because it means that if they keep their word, then their won’t be anymore oppositions or lawsuits for anyone who uses the word Monster in commerce, oppositions in the future will be reserved ONLY for marks that are confusingly similar to “Monster Cable”, or other marks that they own.
      Ultimately, this is what the world wanted, and this is what takes this WAY beyond the smaller picture of us vs. them, as this is the one that will potentially change the future. We will see over time whether actually do what they say they are going to do, but they have promised to do it, and that’s the first step.

      Change is what we wanted, and change is what we were promised. I’m not suggesting that anyone embraces them with open arms, but change has to start somewhere.
      Remember, I personally (along with my wife and our company) just got my ass kicked both financially and emotionally for the last year+ of my life, and I am a big enough man to come on this board with no gag-order, and no legal obligation to them whatsoever, and say that if they’ve really changed their MO, then the world is a better place.

      Rather than speculate, we will wait, and watch their actions over the next few weeks, months, years. The proof will be in the actions, and they know the world is watching.
      So for now, let’s accept their words, and evaluate their actions. Time will tell.
      -Patrick Vitagliano

  • State Briga

    Im glad to read your response – even almost 5 years it’s written.
    I followed Monsters policy of suing and taking over smaller companies for some time and I took it as personal mission to open people eyes about them (overpriced, lawsuit happy, marketing instead quality driven). I do hope they changed but I doubt it.

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