I've been a customer and fan of Monster Cable products since the 1980s, and so this article by the Wall Street Journal titled "The scariest Monster of all sues for trademark infringement" caught my attention:
"When Christina and Patrick Vitagliano dreamed up their Monster Mini Golf franchises -- 18-hole, indoor putting greens straddled by glow-in-the-dark statues of ghouls and gargoyles -- they never imagined that a California maker of high-end audio cables would object.
But Monster Cable Products Inc., which holds more than 70 trademarks on the word monster, challenged the Vitaglianos' trademark applications. It filed a federal lawsuit against their company in California and demanded the Rhode Island couple surrender the name and pay at least $80,000 for the right to use it."
The piece goes on to add:
"Over the years, it has gone after purveyors of monster-branded auto
transmissions, slot machines, glue, carpet-cleaning machines and an
energy drink, as well as a woman who sells "Junk Food Monster" kids'
T-shirts that promote good eating habits.
It sued Monster.com over the job-hunting Web site's name and Walt Disney Co. over products tied to the film "Monsters Inc." It opposed the Boston Red Sox trademark applications for seats and hot dogs named for the Green Monster, the legendary left-field wall in Fenway Park. All in all, Monster Cable says it has fought about 190 monster battles at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and filed around 30 monster lawsuits in federal courts."
The company founder and CEO, Noel Lee, who founded the company in 1979 and carries the title "Head Monster", has been aggressive on this front to say the least:
"To a legal novice, it may seem odd that a common word like monster can be trademarked at all. But in the complex and sometimes murky world of trademark law, common words can be registered, provided they are associated with specific classes of goods. Apple Inc., for example, holds trademarks for the word apple when it's related to computer products, not fruit.
Sometimes, trademarks can obtain a higher order of protection, known as "famous marks." This category is supposed to be reserved for words that have become so entwined with a product and a company -- like the word visa and Visa Inc.'s credit card -- that the trademark owner can argue that no other product may use the word in its name.
David Tognotti, Monster Cable's general manager and an attorney, says the company considers "Monster" a famous mark -- on a par with Barbie dolls or Camel cigarettes. "We're protecting our mark as if it's a famous mark," he said in an interview in Monster Cable's headquarters, where the walls are lined with framed copies of the company's trademarks and patents.
Mr. Tognotti cited a chapter on famous marks in the law book "McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition" by J. Thomas McCarthy, a noted expert in the field.
But in an interview, Prof. McCarthy expressed doubt that Monster Cable possesses a famous mark. He said such determinations are made by courts. Mr. Tognotti acknowledges Monster Cable hasn't obtained such a court ruling."
It's perfectly reasonable for businesses to be aggressive about protecting their assets and business interests. But this one seems to step over the line a tad, as this one piece of many found on the web indicate. It might even be considered "Evil" by some estimates.
Know this won't mean anything to a company with half a billion in revenues but I think I'm holding off buying Monster Cable products for now.