Posted Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 09:00 AM PDT by Brian Hoss
The Monoprice 9774 5.1 speaker set is the source of contention.
Monoprice has made a name and a serious business out of providing cables at prices that make local stores high margin prices look just like that, high. Since the company's beginnings in 2002, its success has grown beyond cables, and in some cases into legal entanglements.
Specifically, CNET is reporting that the Monoprice 9774 5.1 speaker set is the subject of a copy infringement lawsuit by Klipsch. Klipsch unit Energy produces the Take Classic 5.1, which retails for $399, while the Monoprice 9774, which CNET cites as nearly identical to the Energy set, sells for $249. From CNET, "The speakers aren't just similar to the Energy system, and they don't just have the same dimensions and sound quality. Other than the logos, the two systems are virtually indistinguishable.
'Nearly everything -- from the finish, to the placement of the drivers, to the positioning of the speaker connectors -- is identical.'"
The lawsuit was filed March 15th, and the Monoprice 9774 is still for sale.
In understanding how Monoprice normally functions, the CNET article goes on to detail multiple examples of Monoprice licensing other audio products design from the companies that do the manufacturing, leaving the designers, such as Stillwater Designs to explain while their products cost more than the Monoprice version. While making designs exclusive would raise costs for companies like Stillwater Designs, allowing sub-licensing can be a source of profit, albeit a source that must be executed stealthily and without alerting too much of the customer base.
Monoprice has major success in part by removing as many middlemen between cable producers and customers as possible, and in the case of sub-licensing designs, Monoprice's position is that the license holder is responsible for avoiding copyright infringement.
In the lawsuit, Klipsch is seeking to halt sales of the Monoprice product and to receive triple the court-determined damages.
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