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History of Monster Cable U.S. Trademarks Giving to the Community

Monster Cable and Monster Mini Golf reach an amicable agreement

Click to Play Video
Christina Vitagliano and Noel Lee
On Monday, January 5, 2009, Monster Cable and Monster Mini Golf met to discuss, and resolve, the trademark infringement situation. We are happy to report that both we and Monster Mini Golf reached an amicable agreement.

National Public Radio aired (and posted) a particularly informative piece on January 7th, 2009 where both Christina Vitagliano of Monster Mini Golf and Noel Lee, founder and CEO of Monster Cable, were interviewed on the topic. Listen: Monster Companies Settle Name Differences

Please note, you will need Flash Player for audio and a Javascript-enabled browser to hear the interview.

Posted 12-19-08

An open letter from Monster Cable to Monster Minigolf

Patrick and Christina,

Our goal, as with every company across the nation, is to protect the trademark that we have been building for 30 years. It is not our intention to hurt anyone. And this, clearly, is hurting us both. And above all, we value the opinion of our customers about our brand.

Therefore, we agree to the terms you outlined in your message of 12/16/2008 at 10:56am on the Audioholics forum. Those terms were:

  • 'We (MMG) will happily abandon EVERY pending trademark application we currently have pending, except the ONE mark that we all agree you DO NOT already have, "Monster Mini Golf"'.
  • "In return, YOU drop your opposition to that ONE mark "Monster MiniGolf", and allow us to register it."

We look forward to resolving this through proper channels, with paperwork, as soon as possible. We are contacting your attorneys to do so.

No doubt, there will still be those that do not agree with how trademarks are protected in this country. If Monster Mini Golf receives this trademark, you will now have to protect it in the same way.

Respectfully,

Noel Lee

12/19/08

Public Proposal to Monster Mini Golf

The internet has changed how companies like us can defend our brand and prevent the dilution of our trademarks by those who choose to infringe on them. By appealing to consumers’ emotions using mis-information and distorted truths has created a different dynamic to patent and trademark protection. The sentiment of our customers wins over our rights to protect the brand. Monster Mini Golf is attempting to trademark “Monster”, Monster Mini Golf, and Monster Entertainment in areas that we already own, so we had no choice to file a lawsuit, or otherwise suffer dilution of our mark and potential loss of the mark itself.

It’s costly to sue anyone, no one wants to do it.  We have made many attempts to avoid this lawsuit by offering a simple and low cost license agreement that would allow us to protect our trademarks that we already own, and allow Monster Mini Golf to use the name for their business. They refused each time.

Through their attempts to disparage us as a greedy corporate bully, we have been wrongly portrayed as a company focused on squashing small business, when the opposite is true. We are also a small business, and have survived for 30 years.  This lawsuit admittedly has caused so much misguided ill will amongst our customers, that we have no choice but to give up on it, and along with it our rights to have a judge or jury decide this conflict. 

So we are publicly declaring;

1)     Monster has filed papers with the Federal Court to dismiss the lawsuit against Monster Mini Golf as of Friday, December 12, 2008. We will let the trademark office decide when they review their trademark application.

2)     Monster will still owns the trademarks granted by the trademark office for which we offer a license for the use of them to Monster Mini Golf for a minimal royalty of $100 per month per franchise.  Monster (us) will donate and match the royalty proceeds to the following charities that Monster has supported.

The Elf foundation; Creating Rooms of Magic:
http://www.elfsystems.org/partners.html

Seg4Vets:  Segways for disabled veterans
http://www.draft.cc/draft3/Donations/Benefactors/tabid/113/Default.aspx

Monster Mini Golf will then have the ability to use and franchise the “monster” trademark and continue with their business, and we will have continued protection. This will save thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees and the court’s time.  Everyone wins.

This lawsuit was never about the money, our requests were always minimal.  It’s about the protection of our trademarks.  It’s unfortunate for anyone who owns a trademark or patent, that the wrongful and disparaging remarks of a few can inhibit companies like ours from pursuing our right to legal process.

In this country, lawsuits are a method to resolve differences of opinion. The courts resolve disputes thousands of time each day. It is not always the bad guy suing the good guy.  It’s asking the court to hear the both sides and make a decision.  A judge or a jury determines ones right to trademark ownership.  We believe that we would win this case, or we never would have filed it.  This is far from a frivolous lawsuit, we have the prior trademarks to prove it.

For all of those who have supported us during this attack on our integrity, we thank you for your support. We apologize to everyone who may have been affected by our lawsuit with Monster Mini-Golf.  We apologize to our loyal customers who may have been negatively impacted and to our retailers whose customers may have been affected by mis-information.  We are sorry for all of the ill-will that has been generated on both sides.

For 30 years, we have prided ourselves on making the highest performance products in everything that we do.  We have millions of happy customers. With economic conditions as they are, we need to focus on our core business.  We will just keep producing the great high quality products for all to enjoy and hopefully Monster Mini Golf will get what they want one way or the other.

 

Thanks for lending your ear,

Noel Lee

The Head Monster

Founder and Owner of Monster

Below is a summary of our previous message on this matter for your reference.

 

A Note from the Monsters of Monster Cable

In coming to any conclusions you may want to know the whole story as I believe that Monster Mini Golf have led you to believe things that are not true. We believe that they are using sympathy towards entrepreneurial small businesses to their own gains.

Regardless of what false representations have been circulated about Monster, we are not a faceless corporate giant out to squash legitimate business concerns and rising entrepreneurs. We are in fact, a family-owned company that relies heavily on our brand name and reputation in order to continue serving our customers. We have always tried to provide our customers with the highest performance products at an affordable price.

Having started in a San Francisco garage 30 years ago, Monster has become a famous brand. We have millions of passionate customers love our products. While we are best known for our cable products, we manufacture many other products in areas of home theater, computing, gaming, entertainment and power. In addition to consumer electronics we make and have registered trademarks in the areas of sporting, clothing, and food products. To protect the tradename used in these “Monster” products, we have been awarded trademarks in all of these respective categories (listed below)

It’s interesting to note, that Monster Mini-Golf has NOT been awarded ANY trademarks by the Patent and Trademark office with the Monster name in them, yet they are selling franchises with the name. We filed our lawsuit to protect our name from being improperly used, even though we offered them an inexpensive license to use the name. According to the trademark law, we must enforce our marks or we will lose our rights to them. A lawsuit asks for the court will be the final decision maker in this case, not us.

We hope you will have the time to read the below bullets to fully understand the facts before making judgments against myself or my company.

1) Monster Mini Golf Misconceptions:
Monster Mini Golf is not small Mom-and-Pop business. In fact it is seemingly well funded national organization selling franchises with the Monster trademark  that currently goes across 10 states, “from Florida to California” as it says on their web site. The company currently has 24 franchise locations.  Under the name Monster Mini Golf, the company has filed for several “Monster” marks, including “MONSTER” by itself, MONSTER MINI GOLF, MONSTER FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS and MONSTER MINI GOLF which interfere with our already awarded marks. In addition, the company charges franchise and set up fees upwards of $200,000, part of which is the licensing of the name “Monster, for which they do not own a registration with the trademark office, to all of those franchises.

      Check their website: http://www.monsterminigolf.com/cost_breakdown.html 

       If they were a small family owned business, that would not bother us because the dilution of our name is minimal. Monster Mini Golf is a franchise operation.  The owners want to continue to expand their business and use of the “Monster” trademark. “I would like to be known as the best franchise to own,” Vitagliano says. “… I want to be the Universal Studios or Disney World of mini-golf. I always want to stand in a class of our own. I want our brand to become a household name so that people across the country know Monster Mini Golf.” (see: http://www.pr.com/press-release/70857  ) With such wide distribution intentions, they will dilute our Monster trademark to an extent to where it would lose it.

2) Patent and Trademark office has Awarded Monster (us) with trademarks that go far beyond cables.
Many may think that we are only Monster Cable. Over the past 30 years we have conducted business with many Monster marks. We have been awarded 100 registered Monster trademarks in 12 different classes by the Patent and Trademark office, All of these trademarks predate Monster Mini Golf’s application for trademark, which has not yet been granted. Link to our Monster trademarks:
http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/Monster_Cable_Trademark.pdf Monster Mints. Monster Power. Monster Game. Monster ScreenClean. Monster Performance Car. Monster Music. Monster Pro. Monster Central. or Monster Sport. The name “Monster” is a registered trademark owned by us in the categories of electronics, music, games, food product, entertainment, and cleaning products. Contrary to popular understanding, It is not unusual to own trademarks that are common English words.  Tide detergent, Dial Soap, Crest toothpaste, Dallas Cowboys are such examples.  30 years ago, the Patent and Trademark office granted Noel Lee the name “Monster”, exclusive of the name “cable”.

3) Monster is obligated to defend its marks or risk losing them.
We do not like suing. It is expensive for both parties and is a last resort. It’s our obligation under the Patent and Trademark law to enforce our marks, or lose them. As noted in the link cited below, “companies that tolerate infringing uses of their mark risk losing all their rights in the mark if a third party challenger claims the company abandoned their mark by not enforcing it. Thus, companies cannot pick and choose against whom they are going to enforce their mark.”
http://www.marklaw.com/trademark-glossary/confuse.htm .  The easiest solution is to do a low cost and simple license agreement, which we tried several times to do but Monster Mini Golf refused.

4) Monster must defend its marks just as other well respected companies have done so.
Monster needs to defend our mark just as Apple, Virgin, Ebay, Amazon or other companies who have developed their marks must do so. These companies, like us, are within their legal rights to protect their marks as provided for by the Patent and Trademark office. Over the past 30 years we have built many “Monster” brands spanning many product categories, we believe that we have established as a well-known and respected famous mark in our Monster name.

See Examples below.

      Apple, Inc

          Apple has also enforced against a number of people who have used the word “POD” as a trademark. For example: MEDPOD, LONPOD, CONTROLPOD, BACPOD, VIDEO POD, SPYPOD, MYPODDER, PODPRESENTER). You can view more obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark website at:  http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/Apple_TTAB.pdf

          In 2008 Apple filed an opposition in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against New York City's "Big Apple" logo for the GreenNYC initiative. (http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/NYC_Apple.pdf) Apple also filed an opposition against Green Apple Music Arts & Festival for use of an apple in their logo and the word Apple for music event.

      Ebay, Inc.

          Ebay has an active trademark enforcement program for the word “BAY.” Ebay has proceeded against a number of people who have used the word BAY as a trademark. For example: XS BAY, PENNY BAY, HELPU BAY, RIDEBAY, EVERYTHINGBAY, ONEBAY, FREEBAY, TELEBAY, SWAYBAY, FONEBAY). You can view more obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark website at: (http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/eBay_ttab.pdf   

      Virgin Enterprises, Inc.

          Richard Branson’s company, Virgin, vigorously enforces the word “VIRGIN.” Virgin has proceeded against a number of people who have used the word VIRGIN as a trademark, including: WILD VIRGIN, VIRGIN PINE NATIVE SHEEP BLUE, EXTRA VIRGIN, VIRGINAL CLOTH, BARELY VIRGIN COCKTAILS, VIRGIN SOIL, VIRGIN TURBAN, VIRGIN YOGURT, VIRGIN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, CALIVIRGIN, VIRGIN EYES). You can view more obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark website at: http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/Virgin_ttab.pdf

      Amazon.com

          Amazon enforces its "AMAZON" trademark and opposes people who use it or variations. Amazon has proceeded against people who have used trademarks such as: AMAZON TAXI, AMAZON VENTURES, PRINT AMAZON, AMAZON THUNDER DRINK, AMAZN INFO, AMAZON BANK, etc. You can view more obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark website at: http://www.monstercable.com/monster_truth/Amazon_TTAB.pdf

5) Wrongful accusations made by Monster Mini Golf.
We have never sued the Chicago Bears. We have not filed 400 lawsuits. We do not pick on small business, as we are also a small business. We don’t like lawsuits any more than any other company, and don’t like spending money on attorneys, especially in light of the current economic situation.

6) We want to end this lawsuit as much as anyone.
We did not want to file a lawsuit. Before filing the lawsuit, we made many overtures offering reasonable and inexpensive licensing arrangement to Monster Mini Golf, which would allow the company to use the name, while at the same time maintaining our trademark rights. The company has refused, so we had no option but to file a lawsuit. Monster Mini Golf can easily avoid the costs of a lawsuit, and save everyone time and money if it would license the mark at very little cost to them, and a fraction of the cost of a lawsuit. We have many attempts to work with Monster Mini Golf’s attorneys to try to settle this to everyone’s satisfaction.

7) Corporate Bully?
It’s important to note that we are not some gigantic corporate bully as portrayed. We are also a small company with a great culture, still family owned with 500 employees in Brisbane California. We are not a public company with deep pockets. It’s not inconceivable that Monster Mini Golf could exceed the reach of Monster Cable with the trademark of Monster. You can come to our web site to meet the Monsters, www.monstercable.com.

I hope this information helps. We value you as a customer, and hope you stay with us. We feel that our product quality and innovation is second to none, and would like for you to continue to enjoy your music and video in the best way possible.

If you would like to talk with me about this, please email me at truth@monstercable.com


Monsterously,
Noel Lee

The Head Monster

List of Some Monster Trademarks in the U.S.:

Mark

First Use

Class No.

Goods

MONSTER

06/15/2000

28

Sporting Goods

MONSTER ATTITUDE

07/02/2001

25

Clothing, namely, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, pants, and caps.

MONSTER

05/19/1978

9

Electrical and musical signal transmitting cable and connectors.

MONSTER

06/01/1989

16

Newsletters and catalogs providing entertainment industry and cable industry news.

MONSTER

12/20/1983

25

Clothing, namely, sweatshirts, t-shirts, pants, jackets, and caps.

MONSTER (new font)

12/31/1998

9

Electrical and optical cables, wires and connectors for use with audio and video components.

MONSTER BASS

07/31/1991

9

Electrical and electronic devices

MONSTER CABLE

05/18/1978

9

Musical and voice signals transmitting cable and connectors therefore.

MONSTER CABLE (cable design)

05/19/1978

6

Speaker wire.

MONSTER CABLE (Stylized)

11/26/1984

9

Computer cables.

MONSTER CABLE SPECIAL

01/20/1982

9

Audio Cable.

MONSTER CAR AUDIO

05/30/1994

9

Car audio cables, power and audio cables.

MONSTER CENTRAL

08/25/1998

9

Electrical signals distribution panels, boards, boxes, consoles and machines; and parts of and accessories for such goods.

MONSTER CENTRAL

08/27/1998

11

Lighting, namely lighting fixtures.

MONSTER CLAMPS

01/01/1990

9

Electrical cable clamps.

MONSTER COMPUTER

12/31/1996

9

Computer Cables.

MONSTER CONNECTION

12/30/1990

16

Newsletter about consumer electronics.

MONSTER DESIGN

01/01/1988

9

Cable connectors for use with audio equipment.

MONSTER DIGITAL

12/31/1998

9

Electrical signal transmitting cable and connectors.

MONSTER FLATSCREEN (Stylized)

11/03/2006

9

Electrical and electromagnetic signal transmitting devices.

MONSTER GAME

11/13/2000

9

Electrical and electronic control devices.

MONSTER GAME (Stylized & Design)

11/13/2000

9

Electrical and electronic control devices.

MONSTER GEAR

10/07/2005

25

Clothing, namely T-shirts, jackets, hats, polo shirts and vests.

MONSTER GEAR

10/17/2005

18

Luggage.

MONSTER HOME THEATRE

06/30/1993

9

Audio cables

MONSTER INTERNET

03/31/1997

9

Computer cables and telephone cables. (as amended)

MONSTER LOCK

08/07/1998

9

Electrical connectors.

MONSTER MARINE

07/01/2004

9

Electrical and electromagnetic signal transmitting devices.

MONSTER MICROPHONE

04/16/1998

9

Microphones, namely microphone cables.

MONSTER MINTS

01/08/2004

30

Mint candy.

MONSTER MOBILE

09/14/2001

9

Mobile telephone accessories, namely battery rechargers.

MONSTER MOUNTS

04/02/1998

9

Loudspeaker mounting units

MONSTER MULTIMEDIA

03/28/1997

9

Audio and video products, namely cables, switch boxes and junction boxes.

MONSTER MUSIC

01/01/1988

41

Production of compact discs.

MONSTER MUSIC

01/01/1988

42

Distributorship services in the field of prerecorded compact discs of various artists. (as amended)

MONSTER MUSIC

06/03/1988

9

Compact Discs.

MONSTER NETWORKING

06/10/1997

9

Connectors and cables for the transmission of data signals.

MONSTER PERFORMANCE CAR

09/09/2004

9

Electrical and electromagnetic signal transmitting devices.

MONSTER PHOTO

12/31/2003

9

Rechargeable and non-rechargeable power cells.

MONSTER POWER

02/01/1992

9

Electrical power control products.

MONSTER POWER (Stylized and Design)

05/27/1998

9

Powerstrips, electrical surge protectors, circuit chargers and UPS

MONSTER POWERCELL

12/09/2002

9

Rechargeable and non-rechargeable power cells.

MONSTER ROCK

02/25/2004

9

Electrical and electromagnetic signal transmitting devices.

MONSTER SATELLITE

01/31/1995

9

Satellite disk-to-receiver interconnects; electrical cables.

MONSTER SOUND

10/29/1990

9

Audio equipment, namely electrical cables and connectors.

MONSTER SPORT

04/01/1992

25

Clothing, namely T-shirsts, jackets, hats, polo shirts and vests.

MONSTER STANDARD

12/31/1979

9

Electrical signal transmitting cable and connectors.

MONSTER STYLE

12/01/1990

41

Classes and seminars in the field of audio systems.

MONSTER TALK

01/03/2006

9

Cellular telephones and hands free cellular telephone kits.

MONSTER TIPS

01/01/1981

9

Electrical audio connectors for stereo and video components.

MONSTER UNIVERSITY

07/31/2000

41

Online training with respect to electronic products.

MONSTER USB

08/20/2001

9

USB Cables and connector devices for computers.

MONSTER VIDEO

02/07/1986

9

Video cables.

MONSTER WIRE AMERICA

11/17/1999

9

Electrical signal transmitting cables and connectors.

MONSTER WIRED

09/30/2001

41

Providing on-line newsletters containing information about cable, power and electronic devices.

MONSTEROUS

11/10/1997

9

Electrical and electronic control devices,

MONSTERS LIVE FOREVER

04/30/1998

9

Electrical and electromagnetic signal transmitting devices.

MONSTERS LIVE FOREVER

04/30/1998

36

Extended warranty services.

EMONSTER

06/11/2001

35

Promoting the goods and services of others by providing hypertext links to the web sites of others.

IMONSTER

06/11/2001

35

Promoting the goods and services of others by providing hypertext links to the web sites of others.

I hope this information helps. We value you as a customer, and hope you stay with us. We feel that our product quality and innovation is second to none, and would like for you to continue to enjoy your music and video in the best way possible. If you would like to talk with me about this, please email me at truth@monstercable.com

Monsterously,
Noel Lee
The Head Monster