Monster Cable Threatens The Wrong Small Cable Manufacturer

Not long ago Monster Cable sent a cease and desist letter to Blue Jeans Cable alleging that the small cable manufacturer was infringing on several of their patents. What they probably didn’t expect was that Kurt Denke, the president of Blue Jeans, “spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues,” after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985.

Kurt allowed Audioholics.com to reprint his entire response to Monster Cable. Here’s our favorite part:

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.

I will also point out to you that if you do choose to undertake litigation, your “upside” is tremendously limited. If you somehow managed, despite the formidable obstacles in your way, to obtain a finding of infringement, and if you were successful at recovering a large licensing fee–say, ten cents per connector–as the measure of damages, your recovery to date would not reach four figures. On the downside, I will advance defenses which, if successful, will substantially undermine your future efforts to use these patents and marks to threaten others with these types of actions; as you are of course aware, it is easier today for your competitors to use collateral estoppel offensively than it ever has been before. Also, there is little doubt that making baseless claims of trade dress infringement and design patent infringement is an improper business tactic, which can give rise to unfair competition claims, and for a company of Monster’s size, potential antitrust violations with treble damages and attorneys’ fees.

I look forward to receiving the information requested and will review it promptly as soon as it is received.

Sincerely,

Kurt Denke

Blue Jeans Cable Strikes Back – Response to Monster Cable [Audioholics] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in !)

Comments

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  1. hypnotik_jello says:

    ahahaha I love it. uber pwnage.

  2. TheBigLewinski says:

    I luv it, stick it up Monsters ass. Hey shouldn’t they be one of the companies we luv to hate?

  3. seym0ur caKe says:

    He owned them… I want to see what Monster does next..

  4. Dashrashi says:

    I think I’m in love. Call me, Kurt!

  5. So, he basically admits that he is infringing on their patents, but because hes a lawyer is is telling them if they try to stop him then he will run up the cost.

  6. Nighthawke says:

    @TheBigLewinski: Or hate to hate. They keep shifting funds to offshore accounts using shady deals, but not illegal in the eyes of the Fed. This is the kind of operation that I really want to see die a Enron death, taking almost all of the execs down with the ship, save for a couple, one committed suicide, the other acquitted for turning states’ evidence.

  7. fordpickup says:

    That kind of turned me on.

    I hope Monster moves forward. I would love to watch the fireworks.

  8. chrisjames says:

    The clouds parted, the light shown down upon the earth, the angels sang, and God bellowed a mighty “Booyah!”

    And it was so.

  9. savvy9999 says:

    Monster picked the wrong day to pee in that guy’s Cheerios. Wow.

    This response needs to be made into a template, which can be fired off to any litigious company that insists on bullying the little people on meritless claims.

  10. eightfifteen says:

    “Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.”

    Kurt, did you ever know that you’re my hero? You’re everything I wish I could be. EVERYBODY SING!

  11. Geekybiker says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: You need to read the whole thing. He goes in length on exactly how he is not infringing.

  12. toddy33 says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: Where? He makes it clear that he is NOT infringing their patents and dares them to prove otherwise.

  13. KyleOrton says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: Not even close. He actually says that if they can show he infringed, no legal action is necessary.

    I need to go out and buy more electronics so I can order cables from him.

  14. Black Bellamy says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: where does he admit that?

  15. Ninjastorm66 says:

    I was gonna say OWNED, but the sentiment has already been expressed.

    Oh well…

    OWNED!

  16. ionerox says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: I’m not getting the same impression, as he says that he didn’t infringe. Also, he’s threatening to taking it all the way through court to make them prove he’s infringing on their patents.

  17. Me - now with more humidity says:

    My new hero.

  18. warf0x0r says:

    I’m totally buying his products from now on.

    Not that I ever bought the competitors after I lost my best buy discount.

  19. RINO-Marty says:

    I have a man-crush on Kurt. This is, I believe, what they call hellacious blowback.

  20. chartrule says:

    thats quite the letter

  21. Doofio says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: So..i’m guessing you just didn’t bother to read the whole response or any of it for that matter. He never once admits to infringing on any of their patents, but calmly explains to them that the burden of truth is on the accuser, not the accused and that Monster basically just told him “YOU DID IT!” with no real solid proof to back up their claims.

    The part where he goes into his law history is to emphasize that Monster’s (and many other large companies..cough..RIAA..cough)tactics of attempting scare people with little or no knowledge of the law and much lighter wallets with the threat of litigation doesn’t always work the way they want it.

    They tried to bully the wrong man and now they’re going to pay for it. RTFA.

    Monster blows anyways.

  22. KyleOrton says:

    I took a look at the Blue Jeans website. I don’t know anything about cables, but they don’t seem to be violating Monster’s patent for grossly over pricing with a heaping helping of BS marketing.

  23. wdnobile says:

    anyone have a website for this guy? Im buying something from him whether I need it or not LOL

  24. magic8ball says:

    I currently have no need for cables, but I kind of want to buy some from this guy just on principle. Or at least send him a nice note and some cookies or something.

  25. glitterati says:

    I especially love that Mr. Denke acknowledges and deplores the litigious nature of certain businesses today.

    Kurt Denke, FTW!

  26. magic8ball says:

    Although it lacks the ad hominem hilarity of TPB’s “go screw yourself” responses to litigation, this one is so much more elegant and satisfying.

  27. comedian says:
  28. dbson says:

    @hypnotik_jello: “ahahaha I love it. uber pwnage. “

    x 2

  29. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace:

    Wow, did you read anything he wrote?

  30. Bizdady says:

    The link has the full letter, make sure to read the letter in full lenght to get the picture. Love this guy!

  31. MeOhMy says:

    He outdid me…my one-paragraph response would have included references to consumption of sacks of male genitalia and an appearance on a television civil court program.

    I guess that’s something you learn not to do in law school :-)

  32. Raignn says:

    I want to buy this guy a beer and shake his hand.

  33. ret3 says:

    Look like Kurt had a big ol’ heap of WIN in a KICKASS bowl for breakfast!

    /opposite of FAIL in a SADNESS bowl

  34. MCShortbus says:

    I am waiting for the asshole who says “Just show them your receipt and be done with it”

  35. SwampAssJ says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace:

    Must be nice to read every 4th or 5th word. Go college grads.

  36. Dashrashi says:

    @eightfifteen: SERIOUSLY. Probably my favorite part. Oh, but there’s so much to choose from!

  37. catcherintheeye says:

    @comedian: Website is down – obviously other people are interested in Blue Jeans Cable.

    At the very least, if he doesn’t win, he sure got a lot of great press out of it.l

  38. AlexTNOA says:
  39. mgomega says:

    Wow. My hero. I’ve GOT to be more like this guy.

  40. overbysara says:

    ZING

  41. pendroid3000 says:

    “Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.” — *purses lips, lets loose an OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!* OOOOOH No he didn’t. I think my pants are wet.

  42. parad0x360 says:

    Im going to buy cables from this guy…cables that I currently do not need just in hopes that my money fills his legal coffers in a fight against Monster Cables.

    That company is so full of shit, they rip people off left and right and laugh all the way to the bank. Remember the coat hanger study? So do I.

  43. Nearsite00 says:

    Now this guy can truly say he opened up a ‘can of whoop ass’.

  44. Nissan288 says:

    He makes me proud that I graduated from Penn, if only the undergrad. But my roommate will be heading to Penn Law in the fall.

  45. Tzepish says:

    Steve Trachsel is just here to blame the victim. Don’t feed the troll.

  46. thewriteguy says:

    Monster should try going after these guys, instead, for violating their patents:

    [www.hangersdirect.com]

  47. unklegwar says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: What are YOU reading? RTFA. NOWHERE does he admit to any infringement as they provide woefully inadequate information about the infringement claim.

    They’re basically trying to pull an RIAA style bully session.

  48. unklegwar says:

    @magic8ball: “hominem”? is that like a gay eminem?

  49. ARP says:

    @eightfifteen:
    Agreed. Best. Line. Ever. “Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.”

  50. ferris209 says:

    Kurt Denke, Kurt Denke, Kurt Denke. I will remember that name and to NEVER tell him my pecker is bigger than his, ’cause he sounds like he’d damn sure slap his on the table and call me out.

  51. EmperorOfCanada says:

    I highly reccomend reading the whole linked article.. this is GOLD..

    “Similarly, as I note further below, you omit reference to another patent Monster has held which appears, frankly, to be fatal to your position. If you expect to persuade me, you had better start making full, open and honest disclosures; I will find out the facts sooner or later in any event, but the impact upon your credibility will not be repaired.”

    Love you Kurt!

  52. cotr says:

    BOOYKASHA!

    i think i have a new man-crush.

  53. edrebber says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: You’re a stooge for Monster Cable.

  54. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    A $3 foot HDMI cable for $21.50? Kurt, you might have a way with the litigious verbiage, but the only difference between you and Monster is a courtesy spit.

  55. Annath says:

    I think I’m going to buy something from there now. One of everything, maybe.

  56. mgy says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: I just wanted to gang up on you too.

  57. humorbot says:

    Wow. Click through to Audioholics and read his entire letter. The guy just disassembles Monster, point by frivolous litigious point. Screw cables, I need a lawyer!

  58. ferris209 says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: [insert insulting remark here]

  59. kublaconsumer says:

    Why even mention all that junk at the bottom of his letter? Just be professional and nail them like he did earlier. I’m no expert in litigation but it seems like that ruined his letter IMO. “Here’s a bunch of stuff I need…see I sound competent. And by the way I used to be a big fancy pants lawyer and think you are stupid”. Better off without it.

  60. cotr says:

    read the link. its way better.

  61. mikelotus says:

    @Jaysyn: he’s trolling from the sports blog where he writes hundreds of comments a day. do you really expect him to actually read something before commenting? that’s not how they do it on the sports blogs at least!

  62. mike says:

    You know…it’s not often I get turned on at work…

  63. morydd says:

    @kublaconsumer: He’s not saying he used to be a lawyer and showing off, he’s saying that he’s the one that controls the budget of the lawyer and he’s willing to spend the money to fight. That’s much more frightening to Monster, I’m sure.

  64. Edward Lionheart says:

    Notice how “Steve Trachsel,” Monster Cable troll, has not replied? I’m really very eager to hear his case for Kurt Denke’s copyright infringement. He must be in a huddle right now with at MC Deathstar figuring out how to turn the tide for MC on the Internet.

  65. hhole says:

    Dear Monster,

    Before I came to The Consumerist and found the truth of your products, I was a loyal Monster fan. Until I did the coat hanger test. What a bunch of bunk your products are, and yet, I cannot return.

    As I’ve not had the opportunity to see a royal ass-kicking of your company in a long long time, I beg you to please sue Mr. Denke.

    Danka!

  66. TPK says:

    Ha, well obviously since Monster cables are no better than coat hangers, they needed to come up with an alternate source of revenue, and fast!

  67. Darklighter says:

    @dry-roasted-peanuts: Actually, if you take a look at their website, their budget-priced HDMI cables are much more reasonable, and the page even says that a digital signal is a digital signal and you probably don’t need the high-end cable. It’s refreshingly honest.

  68. rachaeljean says:

    Yaaay for the “little” guy!!! :)

    I haven’t checked out BLue Jeans Cables yet, but I sure as hell will in the future. Even if they are just as overpriced. =D This guy is made of win!

    We have a bunch of Monster cables that we thankfully only paid like $8 max for, because my husband used to work for Best Buy… they are a total rip-off, and I always feel bad if I see them at our friends’ houses, haha. Chumps!

  69. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: Yeah, fuck you!

    Now that thats over with, that is one heavy hitter of a letter. Reading the full thing made my head hurt.

    Why on earth does this guy own a cable company and not run his own practice?

  70. Roundonbothends says:

    Ayn Rand would respect this guy.

  71. NotSoGrim says:

    This guy is my hero.

  72. Mi1ez says:

    Nobody loves the Monster. *sniff* :)

    Good job, Kurt. You get my kudos for standing up for what is right and fair and making it sound awesome too.

  73. Barbarisater says:

    Well right here is why Monster is going after them:
    “RCA plugs on the market today–even those on some very expensive cables–don’t depart much from the original 1930′s design. Sure, they’re gold-plated–mostly on the outside, where it doesn’t matter”
    From the description on the RCA A/V cables page

  74. Megladon says:

    I suddenly want to go buy some blue jeans.. possibly some cable to

  75. Hawk07 says:

    BJC has a great product, certainly better and more honest than what Monster could ever hope to sell you.

    While, I’m sure Monster cables are great, they are no more superior (and often times, actually inferior if you look at the actual gauge of the wire they use) than any other cable maker out there.

    Monster has a great business model though. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to sell cables for 500% or more markup. Talk about easy money.

    And again, I challenge Monster to find 5 or 10 video/audiophiles and do a double blind trial of their cables versus their competitors. I want to know if the President or owner of the company can even tell the difference. A digital signal is a digital signal except Monster.

  76. Freddie Fresh says:

    Just show them your receipt and be done with it.

  77. humphrmi says:

    Excellent. Got me a new cable company.

  78. chutch says:

    Not that monster has really lost my business – I only buy their cables when I find them for pennies on the dollar at bargain sites, but I think it’s safe to say they’ve had their bones picked here.

    I really want to see the follow up to this letter if Monster even dignifies its own self with a response to action they triggered. I really love it when overzealous companies and lawyers get what they truly deserve.

  79. MC’s founder Noel Lee makes no apology for his slimy lawyers. He does, in fact, say his are the slimiest of them all. Reminds me of another guy they sued:

    Dear Mr. Skolnik:

    It has come to our attention that you operate a website with an Internet domain name of “monster.biz” and have a “Monster Shop” web page thereon…. [Monster Cable, Inc] believes that your usage dilutes its family of marks and especially its MONSTER mark… We must ask you… to discontinue and agree to transfer the “monster.biz” domain registration to our client. [www.madmartian.com]

    True: Mr. Skolnik sells stuffed monsters. It is, indeed, a monster shop:

    As you state you are aware in your letter, I have a monster shop. I sell monsters whereas Monster Cable Products, Inc sells cables. Would a reasonable person confuse a giant alien creature with an analog interconnect? [www.madmartian.com]

    Monster cable eventually dismissed the complaint. Skolnik’s final response, where he asks for legal fees, is worth a read.

  80. Fidel on the Roof says:

    Awesome letter. I would like someone like you on my team if I am in a similar situation. Go go go!!!

  81. riverstyxxx says:

    I have seen the downfall of Monster Cables, and its’ name is Kurt.

  82. nrwfos says:

    AHHH! Fresh air – what a beautiful thing. Wonder if he could be lured into defending us little guys against some other of the bully companies? This guy is great. We need more.

  83. spinachdip says:

    I keep thinking the company is named Bad Idea Jeans Cable, which is a more apt description for Monster in this case.

    “So I was gonna use a condom with her, but then I figured, ‘When’s the next time I’m going to be in Haiti?’”

  84. MPHinPgh says:

    Best. Letter. EVER!

    I would love to see what would happen if Comcast or Citibank screwed with Kurt.

    Monster: Please, PLEASE take BJC to court, just so we can all watch you get bitch-slapped. The judge would probably laugh his ass off…

  85. shades_of_blue says:

    OMG that was awesome, that dude just drop kicked monster in the teeth. well played, well played.

  86. scarysnow says:

    @comedian:

    maybe we should all chip in and give his website an upgrade. it could use it.

  87. Imaginary_Friend says:

    If Kurt Denke and Gaby Darbyshire mated, their children would be the fucking Terminators of the American Bar Association. Fear doesn’t even describe the sheer terror that would be felt within the blackened souls of corporate bullies everywhere. Just receiving an email with the name “Denke” or “Darbyshire” in the From field would make any company’s legal department slowly and collectively piss their pants.

  88. lostalaska says:

    Please keep tabs on this story, as I’m very curious to see how it ends.

    Kurt’s letter was legal poetry.

    I checked out the website, which doesn’t seem to be on par with the quality of their cables. The only cables I ever am in need of are balanced audio cables for my mini-studio. I’ve been building most of my cables/snakes myself for years now and the components they use like Neutrik XLRs are some of my favs.

  89. ekdikeo says:

    So, he has nothing to say, except that he’s got a bunch of credentials as an IP lawyer, and that if they can prove it in court, then he’ll ahve to bow down to them.

    What a total NON STORY.

    This web site is making me ill.

  90. Goutnout says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace:

    Reading comprehension. Please.

  91. elisa says:

    My favorite part:

    “I assume that Monster Cable International, Ltd., in Bermuda, listed on these patents, is an IP holding company and that Monster Cable’s principal US entity pays licensing fees to the Bermuda corporation in order to shift income out of the United States and thereby avoid paying United States federal income tax on those portions of its income; my request for these licensing agreements is specifically intended to include any licensing agreements, including those with closely related or sham entities, within or without the Monster Cable “family,” and without regard to whether those licensing agreements are sham transactions for tax shelter purposes only or whether they are bona fide arm’s-length transactions.”

    He dug up an issue Monster might not want to be brought to light…hmm where is the IRS?

  92. uberbucket says:

    There’s nothing more American that trying to dodge your tax obligations.

  93. iMike says:

    I have a man crush on Kurt Denke.

  94. lestat730 says:

    That guy is awesome. period.

  95. mac-phisto says:

    @ekdikeo: actually, if you RTFA, he basically asks monster cable for a busload of information that substantiates their right to claim infringement & that if they don’t provide it within 2 weeks, he’ll consider the matter closed.

    so basically, it’s a big “go fuck yourself”. quite entertaining actually.

  96. DogTown says:

    I’d hire this guy to represent my concerns.
    A pit bull attorney with class can make destroying the opposition worth more than the award.

  97. In case anyone cares, I’ve ordered stuff from this guy and found it to be very high quality and reasonably priced. His speaker cables especially are a bargain. Just a little more than Monoprice, but a lot better, at least in the presentation.

    I bought enough speaker cable for a 5.1 setup and a stereo set, plus 3 pairs of RCAs for about what Monster wants for a HDMI cable. :D

  98. StevieD says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace:

    Entirely correct.

  99. b-real says:

    “Let me begin by stating, without equivocation, that I have no interest whatsoever in infringing upon any intellectual property belonging to Monster Cable. Indeed, the less my customers think my products resemble Monster’s, in form or in function, the better.”

    Love that last line!

  100. VeeKaChu says:

    Lewlz, just the letters’ greeting, “Dear Monster Lawyers”, makes it a fun read!

  101. D-Bo says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: Actually if you read it he specifically states that he is not infringing…

  102. 8abhive says:

    Okay, Mr. Ben, enough of the Steve and Stevie posts please. :)

  103. Charles Duffy says:

    @ekdikeo: It’s a fine story — about Monster Cable trying to overassert their IP rights (read the whole letter, not just the ending that was quoted, for more on that) and getting their just deserts. Moreover, the full article is quite informative re the quality of Monster’s IP they’re trying to license out — as there’s quite a bit of overlap between a broad construction of their new patents (a construction they’d need to use for them to apply to Blue Jean’s products, and presumably those of other competitors they’re trying to shake down) and a prior, expired patent (and thus de facto prior art).

    And the letter itself is f’ing beautiful.

  104. Charles Duffy says:

    @Charles Duffy: …eh, not just de facto, de jure as well… ‘yall know what I meant. :)

    ^^ Not A Lawyer. (Obviously).

  105. 00exmachina says:

    @Steve Trachsel, Ace: In the letter he states the only similarities are those forced by the connector standard

  106. apotheosis says:

    Good lord, that whole letter warrants an afterglow cigarette. That was Hank Rearden-esque.

  107. Anjow says:

    This man is a badass and I look up to him.

  108. apotheosis says:

    STEC needs to hire this guy.

  109. rmz says:

    Oh SNAP.

  110. TangDrinker says:

    It would be interesting if more companies would respond to patent trolls like this. There are a lot of bullies out there.

  111. dlab says:

    Well, I agree that frivolous IP lawsuits are horrible. But I also know that I look for the best value out of the stuff I buy (even if I have to buy it at Best Buy). I know that everybody is totally going to jump on me for this, but I’ll point it out anyway:

    Blue Jeans Cable does not sell “instrument” cables. You can buy mic cable and have them put 1/4 connectors on it but it is still cable intended for unbalanced signals – so not instrument cable.

    Second, a 10-ft XLR to XLR cable from Blue Jeans costs $37.00 (from their website) and I have to pay them S&H. The same kind of monster cable costs $21.00 and I can buy it from ten minutes before a gig.

    Just sayin… I love the little merchant as much as the next guy but I’m not going to pay $17 extra AND S&H to support them when I can support the little merchant’s music shop down the street and still get my cable.

  112. Mr. Gunn says:

    [williamgunn.org]

    collateral estoppel FTW!

  113. Andr0 says:

    @dry-roasted-peanuts:

    Actually, mate, I have to point out something:

    He in fact sells no lees than 6 different brands of HDMI cables, with prices ranging (roughly) from $4.10 for a 3-footer to $21.50 for a 3-footer; so you can hardly accuse him of Monstrous price-gouging…

  114. juri squared says:

    Add me to the “I’m in love and pulling out my pocketbook” crowd. GO KURT GO!

  115. dlab says:

    @jurijuri:

    I’ll wait for him to offer reasonably-priced XLR cables.

  116. skilled1 says:

    Blue Jeans Co just gained a customer.

  117. billpendry says:

    I’ve bought from BJC a few times in the past and have been very satisfied with the product. All of their cables are custom-built, so you order the exact length of cable you need. It’s also much more eco-friendly than buying at retail, as your order arrives as nothing more than a bunch of coiled cables in a padded envelope, no pile of nasty blister-packs. Monoprice is also great to order from, but when I want top-quality product I will pony up the extra and order from Blue Jeans.