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Patent Humor:

So when Monster Cable Corp. sent a cease-and-desist letter to Blue Jeans Cable, Inc., alleging that the latter's "Tartan" brand cables infringed various patents belonging to Monster, they may have bitten off more than they can chew. Tuns out that Kurt Denke, President of Blue Jeans, was a lawyer in a former life, and the reply that he sent back to Monster makes for some pretty interesting reading.

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.

And speaking of patent humor: If any of you happen to find yourself in Philadelphia on Friday [STEPHEN COLBERT, TAKE NOTE!!] I'm going to be playing over at Doc Watson's bar (11th betw Locust and Walnut) at a Temple Law School "Happy Hour," (5-7 PM), and will present the WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCE of "Francis Barnes' Underwear," surely the greatest (because the only) rock and roll song based upon a 19th century patent law case from the Supreme Court. (As you patent aficianados might have guess from the title, the song explicates Egbert v. Lippmann, 104 US 333 (1881), a case holding that an inventor's placement of a single corset-spring into his girlfriend's corset constituted a "public use" of the new spring design). Come on down!

CJColucci:
Back in my law school days, we had a 3-credit course covering trademark, copyright, and patents. The patent portion was always handled by a guest lecturer. In my year, the fellow was exceptionally dry, but when he read language from the corset case about how the inventor had "slept on his rights" the class cracked up.
4.16.2008 11:18am
DDG:
Oh, they're <i>design</i> patents. I wouldn't be writing that letter if real patents were involved.
4.16.2008 11:25am
M (mail):
I certainly understand this feeling and it may sometimes even make sense, but one can only hope that it's his own money, and not that of his clients or shareholders that he's being principled with.
4.16.2008 11:26am
Moonage Webdream (mail) (www):
You lawyers sure are a strange lot. Although I will admit the Tommy meets patent law piques my curiosity. ( I picture a cross between early Gary Numan set in an Alice Cooper stage setting. )
4.16.2008 11:28am
Bored Lawyer:
Has Mr. Denko discussed this strategy with his shareholders? Sounds rather brave, except when you consider that someone else is paying the freight!

I am currently representing a plaintiff in a case involving copyrights and trademarks in jewelry designs. Obviously, we think our case has merit. The defendants' counsel has convinced the other side that they are going to get the case dismissed on summary judgment. We disagree. So far so good -- we can disagree on the merits.

Only problem is, the items we are complaining about are only a small part of the defendants' line. Last year they sold about $10,000 worth. So far, they have spent, by my estimation, about $250,000 in fees.

Does this make any economic sense? What's the point of spending so much to defend such a small economic position?

Contrast this with some other defendants who quickly settled for a relatively small amount and an injunction. Costs them much less, and they can concentrate on the rest of their business.

(I of course understand that one does not want to attract numerous nuisance suits -- there is a detterrence value to standing firm. But what is that value?)
4.16.2008 11:29am
Temp Guest (mail):
Bored Lawyer: Your complaint sounds like that of a convicted murderer I once interviewed: "If the SOB had only let me rape his wife, he'd still be alive and I wouldn't be in prison."
4.16.2008 11:41am
Adam J:
M- he's doing his shareholders a favor at this point, since Monster knows its dealing with someone who is unlikely to roll over it will now make certain they have a feasible claim before they continue.
4.16.2008 11:43am
D.A.:
I'd be really surprised if he has shareholders to whom he must answer. And in any case, he obviously seems like he could handle the case without recourse to expensive legal representation.
Having said that, Mr. Denke clearly has a substantial ego, but is also pretty funny. I got a kick out of this, though I doubt the same can be said for Monster:
"Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it."
4.16.2008 11:57am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
More than most areas of the law it seems, IP, esp. patent and copyright, litigation often has horrendous cost issues. So often, you have meritorious cases, but the litigation costs are so far above the amounts in controversy that it does not pay to litigate. It is frustrating to tell a client that he has a very strong case, but that economically it isn't worth pursuing, as he would spend far more pursuing the case than he would ever recover.
4.16.2008 11:59am
FrancisT (mail) (www):
Kurt Denke is the proprietor of Blue Jeans Cable and (along with his wife) the 100% shareholder. It is a 6 person company according to the website.

As I noted at my blog he seems to have a pretty reasonable case simply through looking at a different monster cable patent that has now expired.

This seems to be a legal extortion attempt which looks like its going to get enough publicity as to backfire and harm the would be extortionists
4.16.2008 12:00pm
Brian G (mail) (www):

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.


I live that every day.


Has Mr. Denko discussed this strategy with his shareholders? Sounds rather brave, except when you consider that someone else is paying the freight!


In the long-term view, if other attorneys started to get the hint, you would pay less over the long haul. You keep rolling over, and Plaintiff's attorneys know that all they have to do is demand your policy limits, you'll pay them something, and that's that. You tell them no, and tell them you want to depose 10 people and hit them with significant discovery, things change quickly.

I loved this guy's response.
4.16.2008 12:01pm
JohnMc (mail):
Litigation costs can be a two edge sword. Denke may legally be flat out wrong. But from an economic point of view he is in the cat bird seat. So long as he is expending his own time vs some legal team of external lawyers from Monster the cost to Monster could be huge just in the discovery phase. As a consequence the 'cease and desist' might end up being made by Monster on itself.

Besides as much as I have some reservations of lawyers, I like Denke's pluck. Reminds me of the scene out of out of Dirty Harry -- "...You feeling lucky, Punk?"
4.16.2008 12:16pm
Dan D:
So Bored Lawyer, are you saying that company CEO's should ignore their principles and act in the best short-term financial interest of their company?

I'll remember that the next time I see someone complaining about a company cutting corners or failing to act in a 'community friendly' manner.

After all, why bother upholding principles when there's a quick buck to be made?
4.16.2008 12:18pm
Kanchou (www):
@Bored Lawyer


Does this make any economic sense? What's the point of spending so much to defend such a small economic position?


YES. How much public exposure would this publicity had cost other similar small companies? I am certain this is bring enough attentions to them and their brand, that stick it out til bitter end can be a worthwhile strategy.

I knew of them before, as they are sponser of AVS forum, a popular home theater forum. They position themselves as a "reasonable" priced, good quality, "Made in USA," A/V cable provider. I am cheap, so I buy my cables from monoprice.com , but if they can some clueless buyers who currently buy Monster cables because of this publicity ...
4.16.2008 12:29pm
Bored Lawyer:

Bored Lawyer: Your complaint sounds like that of a convicted murderer I once interviewed: "If the SOB had only let me rape his wife, he'd still be alive and I wouldn't be in prison."


I was not complaining, just pointing out that the defendants' strategy is not well thought out.

My client happily pays our fees, because we give value in protecting their IP. The primary value to our client is maintaining the exclusivity in its name and designs, and achieving published opinions upholding their IP rights. The monetary recovery is secondary.


So Bored Lawyer, are you saying that company CEO's should ignore their principles and act in the best short-term financial interest of their company?


The short answer is that there are principles and there are principles. Some issues have an overriding moral dimension -- such as whether a company should perpetuate racism or dump toxic chemicals in the local river. There principle should beat out profits.

In other areas, "principle" is just a synonym for being stubborn. Although the facts of this dispute are not that clear, it seems that the revolve around design patents for cable. Design patents by definition protect the ornamental look of a product. So the issue is whether one company that sells cable should use an ornamental look which another company claims to have rights -- rights granted by the U.S. Patent Office.

This is hardly an issue of great moral dimension. A company presumably can do a good business without using the challenged ornamental design. Or, it can say, Screw You, I am keeping my design, and go sue me.

I don't think it is a great sell out of principle to calculate that it makes more economic sense to use a different design and avoid the costs of litigation.

(Just so you understand, stubborness is not a bad thing. We make much more fees litigating against a stubborn defendant than a rational one.)
4.16.2008 12:39pm
NYU 3L:
With apologies to Kipling:

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of a corporation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are demanded to desist or be bankrupted,
You will find it better policy to say: --
We never pay any troll license fees,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the defendant that pays it is lost!
4.16.2008 12:42pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
One of the most fun letters I ever wrote was when a trademark attorney sent a letter saying my client's logo infringed his client's trademark.

I wrote back saying you're right they are confusingly similar, but as you can see my client's trademark was registered 30 days before yours!

He wrote back saying they weren't so similar after all.
4.16.2008 12:43pm
Curt Fischer:

I don't think it is a great sell out of principle to calculate that it makes more economic sense to use a different design and avoid the costs of litigation.


I agree with you here Bored Lawyer. But where can I see this calculation? Did you do it? If so, can you walk me through the numbers?
4.16.2008 12:56pm
Bored Lawyer:
The calculation varies by client and what is at stake in the litigation.

But look at the example I gave. For that one defendant, the items accused of infringement represented @10k per year in sales -- a tiny fraction of its business.

The litigation costs to date, I estimate, are $250k and probably will end up being double that if we take the case to trial.

Seems to me that, absent some outside consideration (multiple nuisance suits you want to deter, pubilcity you want to garner) that it would make much more economic sense to settle early on -- say for $20k plus an injunction not to repeat the infringement.
4.16.2008 1:02pm
tim maguire (mail):

a case holding that an inventor's placement of a single corset-spring into his girlfriend's corset constituted a "public use" of the new spring design)

Sounds like the girlfriend has a slander suit available to her.
4.16.2008 1:10pm
What..?:
I would have preferred to see Denke play a little rope-a-dope here, feigning ignorance, weakness, and stubbornness to get Monster to actually file suit before crushing them mightily.
4.16.2008 1:19pm
alias:
The "Dear Monster Lawyers" opening was pretty cool too.

tim maguire, the statute of limitations has long since run on the slander case. The corset springs case is Egbert v. Lippmann, 104 U. S. 333 (1881). The best part of the case is the dissent.
4.16.2008 1:22pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
I hope both parties manage to make each other suffer. They both are purveyors of massively overpriced cables (though there are FAR worse offenders in the field). 50 dollars for a 3' RCA cable, good lord. You could make your own for a couple of dollars and no electronics or double blind audio test in the world could note an improvement.
4.16.2008 1:31pm
anym_avey (mail):
The "Dear Monster Lawyers" salutation is worth the price of admission (the price being about fifteen minutes of reading time).

I don't think it is a great sell out of principle to calculate that it makes more economic sense to use a different design and avoid the costs of litigation.

Sure -- if the design really does, in fact, infringe (or is similar enough to convince a court). But since Denke is apparently running his own company here, if that's how he wants to run it, he can.

Moreover, if the existing design is unlikely to infringe, then Monster may be trying to bully a competitor using the legal system, and in that case they could be expected to do so regardless of what the connector looked like, using superior legal resources to carry out the action until the competitor capitulates to a settlement and licensing terms. Denke and BJC would have to accept the initial cost of the settlement, and alter the company's prices to accommodate the ongoing deduction from its revenue.

In that case, your proposed strategy fails, and Denke has made a good decision in demanding that Monster drop the claim or carry it forward to judgment.
4.16.2008 1:38pm
Libertarian1 (mail):
IANAL

Wouldn't many of these problems diminish if we had a loser pays system? The client who spent $250,000 defending a principle would get his expenses back if he won and the plaintiff might think twice about suing in the future. It would be a win-win.
4.16.2008 1:49pm
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Monster cable is an aptly named company if the name is supposed to refer to the price they charge for their cables. Since cables are built to a standard specification as long as a company adheres to the standard there is absolutely no reason for paying two, five or even ten times the amount for a cable from Monster.
4.16.2008 1:56pm
mischief (mail):

Does this make any economic sense? What's the point of spending so much to defend such a small economic position?


Letting it be known that you are willing to die in the last ditch could easily save the company far more than the suit costs.
4.16.2008 2:12pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I wonder: has patent law become so complex, expensive and unproductive of real protection for the inventor that it not only fails "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" but inhibits that progress? If so, could it be challenged as being, in its entirety, unconstitutional?
4.16.2008 2:22pm
htom (mail):
Monster has a reputation (whether deserved or not I do not know) of being a bully about such things. There was a time, many years ago, when I actually recommended their products, as they were much better made than much of their competition, and reasonably priced (better and slightly more expensive = reasonable.) Their prices have become absurd, and I doubt that there is a quality level of the product that merits their prices (when you add in the costs of the advertising campaigns, ... it may be, but those costs don't get my signal from A to B.)

I thought the reply was hilarious.
4.16.2008 2:50pm
Mississippi Lawyer (mail):
Sounds like nothing more than posturing for settlement to me, i.e. I will make you spend a lot of money on this thing so when I "go against my principles" and make you on offer you should take it.

I've seen similar BS in many shapes and forms.
4.16.2008 2:59pm
Bored Lawyer:

Letting it be known that you are willing to die in the last ditch could easily save the company far more than the suit costs.


Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Depends on how many other potential plaintiffs there are waiting in the wings.
4.16.2008 3:06pm
mischief (mail):

Perhaps. Or perhaps not.


That's why I said "could"


Depends on how many other potential plaintiffs there are waiting in the wings.


Suspect the man on the spot -- the letter writer -- has far superior information than we do. Perhaps we should trust his judgment in the absence of reason to doubt it.
4.16.2008 3:19pm
JCR (mail):
I just want to second what htom said. Monster Cable is know by many as MOBster Cable due to the company's strong armed tactics. They have attempted to trade mark "Monster" suing the TV show Monster Garage. Years before that they had bullied much smaller companies that used "monster" in their name like monstervintage (vintage clothing store). See here http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread/t-42599.html
4.16.2008 3:23pm
hattio1:
Just out of curiousity Professor Post,
What do you play? Both instrument and general style.
4.16.2008 3:24pm
K Parker (mail):
Bored Lawyer, I'm with NYU 3L's parody: there's a substantial though diffuse civic benefit to pushing back against legal buccaneering.
4.16.2008 3:33pm
Vernunft (mail) (www):
So Bored Lawyer, are you saying that company CEO's should ignore their principles and act in the best short-term financial interest of their company?


I can't speak for him but I, for one, do believe in fiduciary duties toward shareholders. If you don't, I'd advise not practicing in Delaware.
4.16.2008 3:42pm
David Post (mail) (www):
to Hattio1: Guitar (electric and acoustic) -- style is s kind of electric folk/blues/rock/hillbilly/music (or maybe its alt electric folk/blues/rock/hillbilly music ...). Check out
http://www.myspace.com/davidgpost
DavidP
4.16.2008 3:51pm
Mark Jones:
Okay, given that I have a fiduciary obligation to my stockholders to maintain or improve the value of the company. What does that mean, exactly, in this case? What if I sincerely believe that a principled stand, though costly in the short-term, would be a long-term win for the company?

Sure, if enough shareholders disagree they can vote me out as President or CEO. But does that mean I'm _obliged_ not to look more than six months into the future?
4.16.2008 4:53pm
Blah Blah Blah:
Posturing at the beginning of a dispute. What a novel concept.
4.16.2008 5:08pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
As an ethics question: You're the associate whose boss asks you to draft and send out this letter on behalf of Monster. Assume you think Monster's position is ridiculous and untenable, but they provide you and your firm with a comfortable living. What do you do?
4.16.2008 5:27pm
Just Curious:

As an ethics question: You're the associate whose boss asks you to draft and send out this letter on behalf of Monster. Assume you think Monster's position is ridiculous and untenable, but they provide you and your firm with a comfortable living. What do you do?


Ask: what's the client/matter number, and when would you like it by?

Welcome to law.
4.16.2008 5:49pm
D.A.:
Tony Tutins, and Just Curious,
I had just this situation a week ago, and I said thanks, but no thanks. Not writing it, even though I need the job and the money.
It's not just an ethics question. If you file a frivolous complaint, like this one, you're looking at a lot more trouble than just a fuzzy area of ethics. I'm not getting sanctioned by the court, or the state bar, simply because my client (or my boss, in this case) has a bug up his or her butt and wants me to file a complaint with little or no legal basis.
4.16.2008 6:06pm
Kevin Murphy:
You must understand, first, that Monster Cable is despised by all technically aware folk. They make their money preying on the unknowledgeable. It is considered rather a duty to steer folks away from their 1000% overpriced product.

ANYTHING that discomforts Monster is red meat for the technical community. That simple act by Blue Jeans will get them more business in the next month than they've had up to now. Couldn't ask for better advertising.
4.16.2008 6:10pm
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Okay, given that I have a fiduciary obligation to my stockholders to maintain or improve the value of the company. What does that mean, exactly, in this case? What if I sincerely believe that a principled stand, though costly in the short-term, would be a long-term win for the company?

Sure, if enough shareholders disagree they can vote me out as President or CEO. But does that mean I'm _obliged_ not to look more than six months into the future?
Bringing "principle" into this is a complete red herring. Shareholder value, and to the extent permitted by state law, the interests of other relevant constituencies is all that should matter to a corporate agent. The corporate board is merely a collection of agents of the shareholders. An appeal to "principle" that effects a net loss for shareholders is bogus. If your principles make you fight needless battles over your pride that waste company money, you're not cut out for management.

If it's your own money to waste (like in this case), then go ahead and waste it. But don't get surprised if shareholders (where there are shareholders) take you to court over pissing away their money on lawsuits over pique.

Balancing long-term value against short-term value is a legitimate basis of decision - just don't call it "principle." The content of the fiduciary duties and when exactly principle and those duties can work together is too complicated for me to understand, much less explain. I just know that, when there is a clear choice between principle and shareholder value, you need more than a vague appeal to morality to discharge your duty.

If a board's view of the shareholders' interest conflicts with their own, of course they can vote him out, and that's their only remedy. But in a case of breach of fiduciary duties (like wasting money on a vengeful defense), the shareholders do have actual statutory and common-law remedies available.
4.16.2008 6:17pm
Watts (mail) (www):
Blue Jeans lays out a pretty good case on the technical merits for why Monster's claims are bogus. If you really believe someone's threatened lawsuit against you is without merit and you're able and willing to fight, I don't see why it's "posturing" to go ahead and do so.

Incidentally, BJC's RCA audio cables are about $32 for 3', not $50 as someone cited above. You can still beat that, but unlike Monster, they'll tell you exactly what you're paying for, using language appropriate to electrical engineering rather than language appropriate to wine tasting. (Monster's prices for a 1M RCA cable run from $20 to $200, the latter of course ensuring that the signal is sent with all its notes of oak and berry and a cocoa peppery finish intact.)
4.16.2008 6:34pm
Mike Puckett:
Kevin Murphy is dead on the money. I am in the market for new cables. Guess who is getting my business?
4.16.2008 8:26pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Bored lawyer.... by your approach, the first guy with an obnoxious lawyer wins. If your obnoxious lawyer takes the first step, then the puny other side's move is to cave immediately, by your analysis.

What you overlook is analyzing the cost to the first company to litigate. Why does it make sense for THEM to spend $200,000 in legal fees to shut down a competitor who sells $10,000 a year in the product line at issue?

Surely you would agree that it would make sense to at least adopt a strong posture in response to the first demand letter, to force the potential plaintiff to evaluate whether IT really wants to spend large sums prosecuting the case?
4.16.2008 9:44pm
Adam J:
Vernunft - Delaware is your example of the state with the fiduciary protection for their shareholders? Companies don't incorporate in Delaware for the legal protections the state provides to shareholders... quite the opposite.
4.16.2008 10:33pm
JohnMc (mail):
PathMHV,

Yes! I know a defendant as his own lawyer is a fool, but Denke seems qualifed. If Denke does so then what is his cost? Mostly the opportunity cost for not performing his regular functions. He's down leveraged to be able to take the fight to Monster so that they will consider backing off.
4.16.2008 10:51pm
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Vernunft - Delaware is your example of the state with the fiduciary protection for their shareholders? Companies don't incorporate in Delaware for the legal protections the state provides to shareholders... quite the opposite.
Delaware has fiduciary duties and has the most developed law on the issue. "I wasted shareholder money for the principle of the thing" is definitely not going to fly.
4.16.2008 10:55pm
ReaderY:
Of course no serious player in our society would ever have any principles other than enhancing Shareholder Value (except when it comes to setting the CEO's salary, of course), and anyone who does deserves whatever he gets in Chancery Court. But the Little People are a superstitious lot, and have superstitions about these "principle" thingies, so pretending to play along with their little superstitions can be good for business and can enhance Shareholder Value.

What a society we live in.
4.16.2008 11:48pm
ReaderY:
Would a corporation in the 1920s be obligated to relocate to Weimar Germany in the 1920s? There's no question that Weimar Germany provided shareholders with much higher annual returns, and a much higher annual increases in returns, than the U.S. economy.

It would seem that any critique of such a view would have to be premised on the proposition that that there are things shareholders find of greater value than money, and they could be expected to willingly change money for so that an increase in those underlying things could be regarded as fulfilling ones obligation rather than increase in financial returns stated as monetary units. But if taking such a larger view of what shareholders might value is prohibited, Weimar Germany has to be the preferable route.

It seems to me that it's just as reasonable to prefer an economy in which there is less extortion as it is to prefer an economy in which there is less inflation. If an executive can't act out of a preference for one sort of economy, I don't understand why an executive can prefer the other. Both situations regard not taking the annual report as reflecting all of reality and looking beyond it to see how the company and its shareholders interact with a context over a longer term. If executives aren't permitted to see extortion as potentially reducing their long-term value and to use short-term measures (that may cost over the short term) to counter it, why isn't the same true of inflation?
4.17.2008 9:23am
JackIYM (mail):
I can't help but think that BoredLawyers' attitude is what fuels our outstandingly litigious society. Rather than fight the bully and risk severe injury, you cough up your lunch money and live threat free....until tomorrow.

Worse, it encourages this type of bullying. And the phenomenon spreads.

The effect widens and soon everyone is hit by the financial and social reality that everyone is paying the bullies--and doing whatever they can to avoid the bullying

So in the short term you wind up not paying much, but in the long term('long' may not be the right word, as the bullying spreads the rate of overall damage accelerates), you wind up paying a lot anyway--and you get to enjoy being bullied every day.

There's only one way to get rid of bullies, and BoredLawyer isn't advocating it.
4.17.2008 9:55am
Mark Buehner (mail):
Incidentally, BJC's RCA audio cables are about $32 for 3', not $50 as someone cited above.


My fault, i was looking at a 3' bundled component video cable. Regardless, you can get an RG-59 coax component cable for less than 5 bucks without breakin a sweat. And if you insist on 24k gold connectors (in case you're AV system is subject to the periodic monsoon season) you shouldnt pay more than $20 for sure. But dont. If your gold plating chips off and your connector rusts, spend another 5 bucks. If this happens 4 times over the course of your lifetime you must be abusing your connectors in some way i am not familiar with (and probably dont want to know).
4.17.2008 5:16pm
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Thankfully, someone Godwin'd this discussion, so I can opt out of continuing to argue. Way to go!
4.17.2008 7:55pm
Wayne (mail) (www):
Hello folks,

I just thought I'd chime in...
I happen to be an employee at Blue Jeans Cable. For what it is worth to you, Kurt was a federal litigator for almost 20 years. He's got several very high profile IP attorneys that he can call at any time - for FREE because they happen to be close friends. I've heard him tell tales of "beating up" on the EPA, The State of Washington, and others.

Actually, BJC has 8 employees and no shareholders. We are a small cable manufacturer in Seattle. The info that Monster cable sent us was ridiculously insufficient. The line drawings sent had no scale, no measurements, no reference to materials or colors, and did not really resemble anything that we sell except in a VERY general way (functional dimensions).

As far as the cost of our products... If you were to compare our cables part for part, quality for quality, you'd see the value. There is a difference between "consumer grade" and "broadcast grade" cable. Blue Jeans Cable sells the latter. Our Tartan line (the one that has Monster in a snit) is our cheap, chinese made economy line. I would put the quality of the Tartan cable up with anything you'll find at the big bhox stores (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc...). There are other things to consider other than price, and our customers know this.

FYI - I am a Professional Audio Engineer of over 20 years, as well as a former non-destructive testing engineer and metallurgist in the aerospace industry.
4.17.2008 10:21pm
Vern Cassin (mail):
NB that waste is one of the hardest claims to make in corporate law. Even if BJC had shareholders, it could always make a colorable argument that it was just thinking about its financial situation over the long term. Note his discussion of the "long-term view" in insurance cases. They could also claim that they were thinking about getting their name out into the world.

Whether they could fight the suit entirely based on principle (in the face of economic considerations) is an interesting question. Seems to me that courts are not going to be wild about telling companies that they have to settle a meritless suit simply because it doesn't make economic sense. Such a decision would not only spark a wave of frivolous lawsuits, but would encourage disturbing ethical lapses on the part of the bar.

When the board of a company reasonably considers a claim against it to be meritless, I'd be surprised if courts would allow waste claims. Breaches of care, loyalty, or good faith would of course be another question.
4.18.2008 11:09am
shawn-non-anonymous:
These are your typical RCA connector cables. I'm not sure how much IP there can really be given that an RCA connector is pretty much the same in appearance if you limit yourself to the most efficient use of materials. Every auto tire is round, black, and has treads.

Here is a gadget blog post on the suit with a photo of the two cables.

To get some idea of just how worthless Monster Cables are, you can read this other gadget blog post.

Finally, while people might be able to make a reasonable claim that gold tips and other stuff improve the transmission of analog signals over a cable, the new digital cables will not benefit one iota from such silliness. DVI, HDMI, etc are all digital. Either the ones and zeros show up or they don't. You get a picture or you do not. There isn't the same sort of gradual degradation with digital that we expect with analog. Any HDMI cable that is certified to the standard will work as good as any other regardless of the price.
4.18.2008 12:17pm