Turning movies into two-hour commercials for their stupid toys is more than enough for me to hate Hasbro, but apparently they’ve also been siccing their lawyers on sites that give them free advertising. Specifically, Martyn Yang, an Australian who runs a site dedicated to nerf guns and super soakers (both owned by Hasbro), a while back had run a review for a product that hadn’t been released yet (which he says he got on TaoBao, a Chinese version of Ebay).
Other sites have confirmed that the product was freely available online, but Hasbro was so convinced that Yang knew where to find the leak and obsessed with plugging it (sexy wordplay alert!) that they sent him an email in the guise of offering him free Hasbro products to use for a giveaway on his site. Yang now thinks the email was just a trick to get him to reveal his address, and a few days later, he received a letter from Hasbro’s lawyers (do lawyers not use email?) demanding the “name, address, email and IP address” of the person from whom he obtained his leaked products. Yang directed Hasbro’s representatives to Taobao and eBay, which apparently wasn’t enough.
Thank you for your email. Sorry to have spoiled your fun, but Hasbro has real concerns about your ability to access NERF products before they are released to the market. We refer in particular to your reviews of the “Vortex Nitron” and “Rayven” models in June and October 2011. Hasbro needs to know from whom you obtained the samples that you used for these reviews.
You’ll appreciate how important it is for Hasbro to maintain the integrity of its supply process. I hope that you’ll reconsider and be prepared to discuss these issues with me.
As for your question about the request for your address, this had nothing to do with me. I can only assume that Hasbro really does want to send you some stuff. Hasbro actually admires what you are doing with your blogsite and has no wish to shut you down. But you must understand that Hasbro has got to find out where these samples came from.
I look forward to talking to you.
Yang says he ignored the follow-up email from Hasbro’s lawyer Arnold, until three weeks later, when he came back to his apartment to find a Hasbro goon squad of sorts lurking in his apartment complex asking his neighbors questions about him.
Yang was told by his neighbours that some creepy people [ethnic types, probably] were hanging around his apartment. He confronted them, one of whom called herself “Christine”. They wanted to tape the conversation. Yang says he was ”so taken aback/shocked by the ambushing technique that I talked to them.”
“My neighbours were freaked out by the sight of the Baker & McKenzie [Hasbro’s law firm] ‘representatives’ lurking around our apartment building on a Sunday afternoon. Apparently they’d been hanging around all day waiting for me! I’ve asked around and been told that the people were probably private investigators engaged by Bakers and not Baker & McKenzie themselves.”
At which point Yang wrote back to Hasbro’s lawyer. Here’s an excerpt:
I realise I forgot to get back to you because I have been busy with work and non-Nerf matters but I really think that it was extremely unprofessional and wrong to send strange people to come and lurk around my apartment block menacingly like that. You really freaked out the neighbours and people who live nearby mentioned some strange woman and a big-looking repo-man-looking guy hanging around suspiciously.
First of all, you’re lucky that no one called the police. Secondly, I really do not appreciate being ambushed by lawyers or their representatives on a Sunday afternoon when I haven’t done anything wrong, I have taken down the images and it’s not my fault that neither you nor Hasbro seem to be able to find out whoever the original source of the guns. It would also have been appropriate to give me forewarning so that I could have a lawyer present.
Regarding the “Vortex Nitron” and “Rayven”, these products are freely available for purchase online at this website: http://www.taobao.com/index_global.php. I don’t have the listing details anymore, but if you search for Nerf stuff there, you should find it. I realise that the products weren’t officially released yet but it’s not my fault they were on taobao and it’s pretty common to find promo stuff on taobao/ebay that the recipients have decided to sell online … I’ve showed your friend Christine the site but I really can’t be expected to teach people how to use an internet search engine. You’ll also have to learn how to read Chinese. I don’t read Chinese so I can’t help you there.
Yeesh, an angry corporation, a dumb law firm, hired goons, and one smart alecky blogger who was too cool for school, all over NERF GUNS†? This is like the worst Elmore Leonard story ever written. Hopefully they get Tayler Lautner to play Yang in the movie version. “Give it up, Yang, we know where to find you.”
“…Not if I find you first.” (*parkours down building holding super soaker*)
Wait, wait, I think I can do this even better:
“We’ll find you, Yang! We’re Hasbro!”
“Not if I already has, bro.” (*rides off on kangaroo, shooting Nerf guns in the air*)
†Things for which I imagine the clientele is probably 95% little kids who don’t read blogs written for adult weirdos with misplaced brand loyalty.