Monoprice, a favorite among tech enthusiasts for low-priced cables, adapters, and other assorted gear, seems to have run afoul of speaker maker Klipsch, who has sued the e-tailer for allegedly copying its Klipsch Energy Take 5.1 Speaker System. The story comes from CNET:
A few months ago, upstart online retailer Monoprice debuted its 5.1 Hi-Fi Home Theater Satellite Speakers & Subwoofer system at $249. 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,” Moskovciak wrote in a February review. Everything, that is, except the price.
How in the heck could this happen? Could Monoprice really be so egregiously boneheaded? Perhaps not. But that “perhaps” does include a bit of speculation.
Klipsch, like almost all consumer electronics companies, imports many of its products from OEM manufactures in China — a country notorious for… borrowing intellectual property. In fact, the country recently attempted to pass a law that would require all foreign manufacturers to have a Chinese partner, who would have full access to all of their trade secrets. (Yeah, that didn’t go over well for some reason.)
So I would speculate that whomever Klipsch hired to make its speakers thought the Energy Take 5.1 was as great as the critics did, and turned around and started selling the system as an OEM bundle, thinking that Klipsch wouldn’t catch on. It’s entirely possible that Monoprice picked up and re-branded that OEM package without knowing what it was selling.
The problem, if this scenario holds water, is that Klipsch probably still works with said OEM manufacturer, and until they can find the link to the actual culprits in the copying chain, its number one goal is to stop the sale of the alleged counterfeit products.
Hopefully Monoprice and Klipsch will settle their differences, whack the responsible parties with extreme prejudice, and go back to supplying great speakers and great cables to hook them up with.