Toy giant Hasbro, for reasons known only to Hasbro, do not like the fact that Aussie Martyn Yang runs a blog about Nerf Guns. What they're doing about it will make you wonder what's come of this world.
Yang's blog, Urban Taggers, exists to showcase Nerf Guns. People post images of guns they've bought, they talk about the toy weapons. It's a fan site.A comprehensive one, which catalogues all kinds of Nerf Guns, posts videos of them in action, and even has reviews of them.
Anyway, last month, Yang was contacted by Hasbro's public relations team, who were offering to send his site some swag for a giveaway. So he replied, and gave the company his postal address. The swag never came. What did come was a letter from Hasbro's law firm, Baker & McKenzie, demanding that Urban Taggers not only remove images and information about an unreleased and upcoming Nerf Gun, but give up the identity of the user who supplied the information.
After telling them he got a lot of his information off the internet and Chinese auction sites, and that maybe Hasbro should try that sometimes, Yang then came home one Sunday afternoon to find two people - a "strange woman and a big-looking repo-man-looking guy" - had been lurking outside his apartment all day, wanted to interview him and record the conversation.
A reminder: this is over images and user reviews of plastic toy guns Yang bought off a Chinese website.
The matter has now been reported to the Office of the NSW Legal Services Commissioner, and Yang is "seeking redress" from the law firm for their conduct.
To read all the emails sent between Yang, Hasbro and the law firm, check out Crikey's great piece on the story below.
UPDATE - Hasbro has issued the following 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.