This is for my lawyer friends and clients – and anyone who enjoys seeing a lawyer smack down a company that deserves it.
Monster Cable makes high-end, expensive audio and video cables. It’s not obvious that Monster Cables are worth the price – recently blindfolded audio aficionados could not distinguish between audio delivered on Monster Cables, on the one hand, and coat hangers, on the other hand.
But Monster Cable just loves suing people to protect its trademarks and patents. In fact, some people have suggested that maybe, just maybe, Monster Cable uses litigation bullying tactics to intimidate competitors and browbeat them into unwarranted settlements. (It makes Monster’s CEO sad.)
Monster Cable sent a cease and desist letter to Blue Jeans Cable, a small competitor, alleging that an audio cable made by Blue Jeans Cable infringes on various Monster design patents and trademarks. Little did they know that Kurt Denke, president of Blue Jeans, had been a litigator in his former life and that he was not only perfectly capable of pushing back but would do so in public. He gave permission for his response to be posted online and promises to make future correspondence public.
His letter to Monster is long but worth reading for entertainment – someone at Monster’s law firm was soiling their pants by page three. Skip the details if you like, but don’t miss the last few paragraphs! This closing comes after a detailed recitation of facts and law:
“I have seen Monster Cable take untenable IP positions in various different scenarios in the past, and am generally familiar with what seems to be Monster Cable’s modus operandi in these matters. I therefore think that it is important that, before closing, I make you aware of a few points.
“After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, I spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues. My first seven years were spent primarily on the defense side, where I developed an intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle. In plaintiffs’ practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of settlement were on the table. I am “uncompromising” in the most literal sense of the word. If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds. As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.
“I say this because my observation has been that Monster Cable typically operates in a hit-and-run fashion. Your client threatens litigation, expecting the victim to panic and plead for mercy; and what follows is a quickie negotiation session that ends with payment and a licensing agreement. Your client then uses this collection of licensing agreements to convince others under similar threat to accede to its demands. Let me be clear about this: there are only two ways for you to get anything out of me. You will either need to (1) convince me that I have infringed, or (2) obtain a final judgment to that effect from a court of competent jurisdiction. It may be that my inability to see the pragmatic value of settling frivolous claims is a deep character flaw, and I am sure a few of the insurance carriers for whom I have done work have seen it that way; but it is how I have done business for the last quarter-century and you are not going to change my mind. If you sue me, the case will go to judgment, and I will hold the court’s attention upon the merits of your claims–or, to speak more precisely, the absence of merit from your claims–from start to finish. Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.”
Lovely! It makes me want to buy something from Blue Jeans Cable.