Monster Cable is an American company that started its business by manufacturing video and audio cables for televisions, DVD players, computers, cameras, and printers. Over the years, the company would grow its range of products to include audio devices for motor vehicles, speakers, mobile accessories, headphones, and power strips. MonsterCable.com was the company’s official website.
While Monster Cable’s core business was initially the manufacture of video and audio cables, the company also became known for its controversies because it was no stranger to taking an aggressive stance in protecting its trademark.
Today, attempts to find MonsterCable.com start with a long wait before the message “This site can’t be reached” displays on your screen. What could have happened to the website of a company that claimed to have “over 500 US and international patents and 100 patents pending worldwide” and “over 5,000 products … sold in over 160 countries”?
We took some time to follow the history of Monster Cable, the products it manufactured, and its controversies. We end the article by attempting to find out what eventually happened to its website.
The History Of Monster Cable
An archived page of Monster Cable’s website tells the story of how the company was started in 1979 by Noel Lee, then a 60-year-old laser-fusion engineer. According to the same page, “Lee discovered that wires of different constructions produced varying degrees of audio performance.” He then produced a “high-performance speaker cable, named it Monster Cable, and literally created an industry.”
But what do cables have to do with monsters? Apparently, Lee was deliberate when he called the company Monster Cable. He “chose the name ‘Monster’ because it sounded strong and powerful.”
Taking Practical Steps To Convince A Doubting Industry
After discovering that cables made a difference in the quality of the sound produced by a speaker, Lee knew that people would find it difficult to understand the concept without a practical demonstration. This realization led him to start producing the cable in his San Francisco garage.
With his cable in one hand, Lee would use the other to knock on stores, offering them a demonstration. If this was a slow method of introducing Lee’s revolutionary idea, the Chicago Consumer Electronics Show of 1979 would be the catalyst the company needed to scale.
In 1980, as the company became more popular, Lee moved its headquarters from his garage to 101 Townsend Street in San Francisco. This was also the same year when the company employed its first staff members.
Monster got its first patent in 1985, spurring the company to launch what it called “the world’s first computer speaker, The MacSpeaker.” Monster Music would be launched in 1986.
Headphones Become The New Speakers
In 2006, realizing that speakers were losing their popularity as the headphones were becoming “the new speakers,” Monster paired up with the rap mogul, Dr. Dre and the American music executive Jimmy Iovine to begin the production of headphones under the Beats Brand.
The collaboration with Dr. Dre and Iovine would be the beginning of Monster’s collaborations with other celebrities like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, LeBron James, and the former Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming.
In 2011, the Taiwanese consumer electronics company, HTC, paid $300 million to purchase a 50.1% stake in Beats and started producing HTC iBeats.
Monster Changes Its Name
With an expanding product line, Monster Cable changed its name in 2012, dropping the word cable. Monster Inc. became the company’s new name.
In a 2012 article published by the San Francisco news website SFgate.com, Benny Evangelista speculates about the name change. He writes, “In a world that’s rapidly going wireless and where headphones have become a fashion accessory, Monster Cable Inc. has quietly dropped the ‘cable’ part of its name.”
In the same year that Monster Cable changed its name, the company announced that it was splitting from Beats. Referring to the decision, Lee is quoted by Evangelista saying, “Monster has many more things it wants to do outside of Beats as we move on to the next phase of developing great audio products.”
One year after the split from Beats, Monster launched the EA SPORTS MVP Carbon and the Monster 24K Headphones.
Turning Into The Scariest Monster Of All
If Monster was known for revolutionizing the cable and sound market, the company also became famous for aggressively defending its trademark. The company has over 70 registered trademarks on the word monster with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In an article published by the Wall Street Journal and titled The Scariest Monster of All Sues for Trademark Infringement, Steve Stecklow tells the story of a company willing to go after anyone who used the word monster in almost any commercial sense.
Stecklow writes, “Over the years, it [Monster] 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.”
Evangelista names some of the companies that received mail from Monster Cable’s lawyers. These include Walt Disney Co. for products related to the film Monsters, Inc., Hansen Beverage Co. for naming its energy drink Monster, and Bally Gaming International Inc., which used the word monster to name its slots. The same journalist quotes David Tognotti, the legal counsel for Monster Cable, who said, “We’ve spent millions of dollars as well as countless hours building our brand.”
But how did these numerous lawsuits end? Stecklow reports that Monster Cable had not won the cases in court, with many of the sued companies settling their cases out of court. Some agreed to surrender their trademarks to Monster, which would then charge a fee to let the companies use the trademarks legally. Others agreed to have a link on their websites directing visitors to Monster Cable products.
No Sacred Cows
It’s not just those who used the word monster that found themselves in Monster’s bad books; the company sued even Dr. Dre and Iovine. According to TheVerge.com, the dispute was related to Dr. Dre and Iovine concealing “business dealings and slowly [cutting] out Monster and its CEO Noel Lee’s involvement on its way to selling to Apple in a $3 billion deal.”
When the case went to court, it was dismissed. TheVerge.com reports that “The judge ruled that Beats was allowed to end their partnership, meaning its actions were not, as Monster and its CEO Noel Lee claimed, a ‘sham’ designed to take control of their shared headphone line.”
What Then Happened To MonsterCable.com?
The demise of MonsterCable.com seems to have started when Monster Cable rebranded in 2012, taking the name Monster Inc. In 2013, visitors to MonsterCable.com were being redirected to another of the company’s websites. This redirect lasted until 2018 when visitors trying to reach the site ended up on yet another of Monster’s sites. By the end of that year, the redirect was broken, and MonsterCable.com was no more.