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Hasbro harassing Urban Taggers


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#1 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:23 PM

I actually saw this first on BoingBoing:

Australian Nerf fans were outraged to learn how Martyn Yang, a Nerf-gun blogger writing for Urban Taggers, was tricked by Hasbro into revealing his home address with an offer of a giveaway for his readers, only to receive a lawsuit threat and takedown demand from Nerf's lawyers at that address. At issue is a review the blogger ran of the N-STRIKE ELITE “RAMPAGE” BLASTER, a product that wasn't officially released yet (though as he points out, there are lots of places you can get them). Nerf's lawyers demanded that Yang turn over the identity, IP address and other personal information on his source, or face legal sanctions. Things got worse when Yang complied with the takedown demand, but still came home to find "representatives" of Hasbro's law firm, Baker and McKenzie, skulking around his apartment building and freaking out the neighbors, asking nosy questions and demanding to know where he got his information. Meanwhile, there are calls for Hasbro boycotts on Facebook, and Yang says he's reconsidering whether he'll devote his energies to promoting Hasbro's products in the future.


The original Urban Taggers post.



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#2 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:43 PM

My own thoughts on the subject can be found here.
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#3 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 01:08 PM

This isn't the worse thing ever - they're just trying to control their marketing (albeit in a hamfisted, self-destructive manner). It's not nearly as bad as the havoc they inflict upon the My Little Pony community (shutting down fan sites being the most egregious example). And while Hasbro's actions may have been "legally appropriate" in all these cases, it nevertheless speaks of a lack of understanding of how to foster healthy relationship with their customers and promoters.

IAMAL, but Urban Taggers seems to have been cooperating with them (the whole damn site was down for about a month while he sorted things out). At this point, Hasbro is just throwing their weight around without to the benefit of no-one, least of all themselves.


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Edited by Daniel Beaver, 24 April 2012 - 01:14 PM.

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#4 Buffdaddy

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 02:21 PM

The fact that this is a thread explaining the general situation, as opposed to "OMGWTFBBQ look at dis, Hasbruh sux" is pretty encouraging.

I know there's a fine line between fostering a community/promotion and having your IP ripped off, as far as companies are concerned. Where exactly do you peg that? Anyone know of a good example?
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#5 Ice Nine

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 02:43 PM

It's not nearly as bad as the havoc they inflict upon the My Little Pony community (shutting down fan sites being the most egregious example).


To be fair, though, most of us aren't writing masturbatory fan fiction about Nerf guns and drawing pictures of Raiders being "rear-loaded."

But I do, so.

Edited by Ice Nine, 24 April 2012 - 02:48 PM.

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#6 Mr BadWrench

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:10 PM

To be fair, though, most of us aren't writing masturbatory fan fiction about Nerf guns and drawing pictures of Raiders being "rear-loaded."

But I do, so.


And Ice Nine is the man to talk to if you have questions about rear loading.



This amuses me endlessly, Can you possibly get more publicity for less effort than having some ginormous corporation try to sue you for something you have virtually no control over?
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#7 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:16 PM

This story is trending on a lot of news sites. And no wonder, it's a great click-generator. I wonder if this will have the ironic effect of getting more people interested in nerfing.
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#8 DX-Robert

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:19 AM

The ironic thing is that it's probably Hasbro's own employees doing the leaking, in some Chinese production facility. I mean, if the stuff is all being listed on the Chinese equivalent of Ebay, surely they can put 2 and 2 together? It's being made there and it's being sold there. How far from the tree can the apple really fall?
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#9 OneWingedAngel

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:32 AM

The ironic thing is that it's probably Hasbro's own employees doing the leaking, in some Chinese production facility. I mean, if the stuff is all being listed on the Chinese equivalent of Ebay, surely they can put 2 and 2 together? It's being made there and it's being sold there. How far from the tree can the apple really fall?


Using that metaphor, I think Hasbro was trying to figure which branch of the Nerf Tree is dropping fruit early. The only thing is, they majorly fucked up their "investigation". Rather than enticing Pocket with free merch then throwing the book at him, if they had been more cooperative either 1) They'd have the info they wanted, or (more likely) 2) They wouldn't have a slowly unraveling PR nightmare on their hands.

A bit off topic, but is chomping at the bit for pre-release info the way we do good? It takes all of the suspense out of the release. I mean, we had the Rayven figured out completely months before it was released, same for the whole Vortex line and just about every release Hasbro's had for the last two years. Just my $0.02.
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#10 Griever 2112

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:10 AM

I see OWA point. Hasbro works at designing these blasters and The Elite Line is still in the announcement phase and we are trying to figure out how it's hitting the magic number, but we also have pretty much buried the Hailfire which is their flagship blaster. Truth be told. Yeah it really sucks this happened to Pocket and Hasbro screwed the pooch in trying to find the real culprit, but Hasbro does have a right to find out who is leaking their stuff... they just did a piss poor job in this case.
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#11 Remag

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:45 AM

If nothing else it has given me a site to poke around on. Google translate plus google money converter = cheap Nerf products (and some knockoffs). I can use Google, but I did go to college.

Anyway, back on subject, the biggest problem that I have with this is that is seems to be a result of a fake offer for free swag. That is just dirty tactics in my book, but UT did handle it well.
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#12 Forsaken angel24

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:58 PM

Wow, just when I thought they could not sink any lower.
I won't be purchasing a Nerf brand gun again.
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#13 Crusher9051

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:22 PM

Amazing how hasbero does buisness they cant even secure thier own products from the general public now this is gonna bad for thier sales and public thoughts about the new line of blasters or other products they manufature.

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Edited by Langley, 25 April 2012 - 01:39 PM.

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#14 Swatsonia

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 07:33 PM

Taken from Hasbro's facebook page, their 'official statement'.

"We appreciate the opportunity to provide the following statement concerning Hasbro’s investigation into “leaked” IP information regarding its NERF brand products. As with anything, there are two sides to every story. While we cannot comment on the details of any ongoing investigation, Hasbro takes all circumstances of its stolen and leaked IP very seriously and will continue to investigate sources of unauthorized information and products as it relates to its brands. We would like to clarify one of the inaccuracies that has been reported. While a local Hasbro Australia marketing team did reach out to the Urban Taggers website to engage in promotional activity for which it required its address, it was completely unrelated to the confidential global investigation being conducted on Hasbro’s behalf by independent investigators looking into sources of leaked IP information. Hasbro greatly values and appreciates its fan communities and is very proud of its strong relationships with many bloggers and sites that cover our brands and products."

My conclusions were that it was a sad coincidence that the independent investigation coincided with a seemingly genuine promotional offer.
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#15 taerKitty

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:17 PM

I don't believe in coincidences like this. It's too pat, and too close. Plus, I don't see any sign that Hasbro actually followed through on their offer - no pinpoint sights to be found.

A vapourware offer, the mysterious appearance of The Goon Squad? I have a hard time believing it's anything other than a concerted effort.
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#16 makeitgo

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:00 PM

... I don't buy it. It doesn't sound like a coincidence to me. Only after UT supplied an address did the lawyers send a letter ...to that address.
How else did the lawyers discover his address if not given by the Nerf promotional representative?
If they had discovered it on their own, how is that they didn't know about ebay/TaoBao/Google or the internet?

It sounds like the representative is just trying to save face by 'passing' the buck. He has the address, why not just send the promotional material?

...Just like any gangster movie, the boss never does the dirty work himself. He hires a hitman from outside the family ~ Plausible deniabillity.

The 'friendly' post-communication (timely, I might add) is just a sly way of saying, "Did you get the message?..!!"
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#17 idleninja

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:47 PM

Taken from Hasbro's facebook page, their 'official statement'.

"While a local Hasbro Australia marketing team did reach out to the Urban Taggers website to engage in promotional activity for which it required its address, it was completely unrelated to the confidential global investigation being conducted on Hasbro’s behalf by independent investigators looking into sources of leaked IP information."


Bull Hasbro. If there really were a global investigation going on you would have been able to get his house address from his IP. Just a coincidence you decide to contact him with lawyers the same time he sends you his address.

Notice in the statement they don't deny that one of the reasons they reached out to him was to obtain his address. How underhanded.

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Edited by idleninja, 25 April 2012 - 10:51 PM.

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#18 Swatsonia

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:17 AM

For your entertainment:

http://urbantaggers....asbro-saga.html
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#19 HasreadCoC

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:28 AM

Taken from Hasbro's facebook page, their 'official statement'.

"We appreciate the opportunity to provide the following statement concerning Hasbro’s investigation into “leaked” IP information regarding its NERF brand products. As with anything, there are two sides to every story. While we cannot comment on the details of any ongoing investigation, Hasbro takes all circumstances of its stolen and leaked IP very seriously and will continue to investigate sources of unauthorized information and products as it relates to its brands. We would like to clarify one of the inaccuracies that has been reported. While a local Hasbro Australia marketing team did reach out to the Urban Taggers website to engage in promotional activity for which it required its address, it was completely unrelated to the confidential global investigation being conducted on Hasbro’s behalf by independent investigators looking into sources of leaked IP information. Hasbro greatly values and appreciates its fan communities and is very proud of its strong relationships with many bloggers and sites that cover our brands and products."

My conclusions were that it was a sad coincidence that the independent investigation coincided with a seemingly genuine promotional offer.

Except, if the two were unrelated, then how did they get ahold of his name/address? Also, why did he never receive the pinpoint sights? I read it as: "we were going to send you the sights, but after we found out what you've been doing with unreleased stuff, we passed your info to our lawyers and decided we didn't feel like giving you the stuff, but we totally originally might have been planning to send you the sights at some point".
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#20 Langley

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:22 AM

It would not surprise me if a law firm contracted by Hasbro were antagonizing a blogger while a marketing firm working for Hasbro simultaneously rewards the blogger for providing free press. Many similar situations have cropped up in the battle between viacom and youtube, where an infringing video cited in the case by viacom turned out to have been posted as part of a viral marketing campaign by a firm hired indirectly by viacom. Also, if the law firm really wanted to find out what the blogger's address is, there are other channels for doing so without resorting to these shenanigans.

In any case, I'll take this as an opportunity to remind everyone that posting 'leaked' info about any unreleased Hasbro products is a banable offense. I know we haven't gotten much out of our arrangement with them in recent years, but regardless it is our policy to fly under the radar wherever possible.
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