Monster Cable Tosses Lawyers, Settles Suit In Person
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.
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.
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.”