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Hasbro offers free merchandise to blogger, sends lawyers instead. (crikey.com.au)
190 points by AgentConundrum on Apr 24, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

PR managers rulebook:

1) Don't let your legal department harass your fans. Your lawyers decided what they can do legally. You decide what they should do in service of your business goals.

2..n) All of the other rules are just rule 1 again, but with recursive and geometrically increasing internet mocking added on each time you break it again.

> your legal department

It wasn't Hasbro's legal but an outside firm. Legal firms make money by taking actions (eg writing letters) and billing hours of "work" they have done. It is in their interest to do as much of these as possible.

I have also been threatened in the same way by lawyers working for LG. Instead of just asking me where I got the "confidential" information I posted (it was posted to usenet and some websites) they came down on me and delivered stuff to my employer claiming that me and "my accomplices at a carrier" had stolen it.

I pointed out to the lawyer that he was an unpleasant person, I would have told him or anyone else who asked where the information come from (but not provide training on how to use google) and that shooting first and then asking questions was a stupid way of operating. I was threatened with lawsuits etc, so I told him to go ahead and also to make sure that LG knew he was being an idiot on their behalf. More blustering and threats.

Then I get a call from LG with the lawyer on the line where the LG person was actually pretty decent and it was obvious they had no idea what the lawyer was doing. I told them that if they apologised then I'd happily tell them exactly what I would have told them if they had just asked nicely in the first place and delete the information (which of course could still be readily found all over using Google).

So they said they would and I kept up my end of the deal. They then proceeded to not actually apologise.

(I ran an extremely popular site for a particular LG cell phone helping many fans. The "confidential" information was what the changes were in each firmware update. It was rather boring stuff but there were fairly frequent updates so naturally people wanted to know what the changes were each time.)

TLDR: So I have learned my lesson. Lawyers are worthless scum and you should never believe a word they say. You cannot expect them to behave within the bounds of human decency. And they get to bill someone for every hour they act like pricks.

I learned that myself when I was contacted by a trademark attorney about a potential violation of a trademark of a company that we were friends and partners with. I called the company directly, got the CEO on the line and asked WTF. He didn't even remember the law firm. They had used it to file a trademark years earlier.

The law firm filed with ICANN and took a domain name that we had that I had freely offered to our partners whenever they were ready to use it. I tried to transfer the domain to the partner but the lawyer had already taken it, and held it hostage for the payment of the legal bill! They still have it.

You have to be very clear with lawyers where their work ends or they'll make-work you to get a few more hours and make you look like an ass in the process.

Reading the communication makes me feel sad for the poor guy. He believes he is talking to people which feel responsible for their actions or the corporation they work for. He scrambles to produce a complete picture and tries to argue that the company is losing money through the process. All his mails will just drown in a corporate maze of diffused responsibility and mis-communication. It's really just a huge real-life reenactment of Brazil.

Large companies should have a dedicated department that has the sole purpose of not making the company look like an ass. Any action like this would have to be cleared by the "department of not making us look like asses" before it can be undertaken.

Someone, somewhere in the company has got to have the ability to say, "wait, no, that would make us look like giant asses."

Also any employee who began to feel that what he/she was doing was becoming slightly more posterior than anterior could defer to the Dept of NMULLA.

That department is called PR. The problem is that they can be rendered dysfunctional by the same forces as can any department.

The problem with this is that most of the time PR is "the guys that make the ads and spin the bad news to the press". A kind of side-entity that has narrow scope.

They are not in the critical path when asshattery flows out of legal, through management, and spills into the public space.

I agree completely. In this case the force that has rendered them dysfunctional is called "being sidelined by senior management".

I feel sad for the poor guy for having gone thru this, but I don't know if I believe the good folks at Hasbro/attorneys were the intended audience... considering how many times taobao was mentioned, the ineptitude of the attorneys for lacking basic internet search skills, etc, to me he is trying to do damage in the most sincere way that a blogger knows how<coughstreisandcougheffectcough>. It appears to be working.

I wonder how Aaron Barr is doing these days?

> All his mails will just drown in a corporate maze of diffused responsibility and mis-communication.

Or worse: They could be used to prove he is guilty of something, whether perjury, or in threatening the eventual demise of Hasbro. Good intentions tend to come back to bite you when large corporations and their legal teams are involved.

A key point to draw from this: When the other party's lawyers come out, bring out yours or refuse to talk, depending on the conversation's importance.

An upvote isn't enough to agree with this. If you're facing a hostile law firm, you do not want to talk to them on your own.

Simpsons already did it ...

  Wiggum: I mailed these bogus prize certificates to every scofflaw in
          Springfield. When they show up for their free motor boats we arrest
          them and beat them to the full extent of the law.
   Eddie: So the hook is baited.
     Lou: Nice metaphore Eddie!
  Wiggum: Yeah, good work, Eddie!

At least one real police force has done this, and I'd be surprised if it's not more common.


(Apologies for awful daily mail source.)

This has happened several times in the Chicago area, most recently in October http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-05/news/ct-met-da...

Not really an appropriate comment for HN. This isn't reddit.

I understand why you (and others like you) express this sentiment, but I think you're putting the cart before the horse.

This comment doesn't expand the conversation, it just expresses an opinion and doesn't attempt to engage the original poster. In scolding delsarto for creating a post with (I assume) limited on-topic discussion & engagement potential, you've created another post with limited on-topic discussion & engagement potential.

We already have some language in the guidelines on how to engage in discussion, but maybe something specific to "what about posts you don't think add to the discussion"? OTOH, Communities that try to enforce rules too stringently end up being communities about those rules.

I disagree on the first point. I do love a good Simpson's reference.

And I love my cats, but I hope you'll agree that cat photos are not germane. I have many interests outside the scope of this site, and I'm sure you do too. That doesn't mean we should try and drag this site toward the lowest common denominator. Different sites should be different. More homogeneity is not what the Internet needs.

This could go down as a lesson in the first chapter of bad internet P.R. 101.

I can't understand how Hasbro or their legal firm could get it so wrong. If their legal firm is to blame for this, they should be fired on the spot.

> I can't understand how Hasbro or their legal firm could get it so wrong.

I take it you haven't experienced the innards of a huge company before.

This is the classic stink of a broken management onion. Maybe I'm jaded but I don't find this kind of corporate bullshit surprising anymore.

Reminds me of what Valve did to Axel Gembe.


Basically, Gembe hacked in to Valve's servers and obtained Half Life 2's source code. Roughly half a year later, after Valve had given up on the case, Gembe admitted to it later in an e-mail to Valve. After quizzing him on the attack vectors used, Valve conducted a phone interview, then wanted an in-person interview, stating they wanted to offer him a job. The latter would be in Seattle, where they actually planned to arrest him.

30 seconds in I got a big "give me your email address" popup blocking the story...makes it difficult to read.

I barely notice those anymore. Something pops up, I hit ESC and it's gone.

I don't know who they're targeting with those things though. Do they really think that a lot of people will come to a site for the first time, then decide to hand over their email/sign up/whatever after a grand total of five seconds on the page?

Have there been any studies done on this?

Yes, their A/B testing likely shows it's effective over not showing a popup for harvesting email addresses.

I'd be surprised if they actually A/B tested it. Either way, the popup probably did increase the number of email address they got. However, this came at what cost to the bounce rate?

> I hit ESC and it's gone.

You're lucky that even works - you have to specially program that functionality, and I see too many websites that don't, forcing me to find the close button.

And for extra irritation have the close button only fade in after a few seconds....

So glad the internet gives people a fighting chance at stopping this kind of bullying.

> Aloysius T. Dudefella

Is this a reference that we're supposed to be familiar with, or is it for an Australian audience, or for Nerf fans?

A 2 second Google search reveals that he is indeed Australian, and seems to participate in Nerf related "tag" games. So a little of both, would be the answer.

That is an excellent name regardless. I thought it was made up until I tried searching for it.

I doubt they're related, but Dudefella automatically makes me think of a WoW trading card that Gabe of Penny-Arcade drew.

Dudefella is Gabe's WoW character, actually.

But yeah, that's where my mind went first, too.

You think that's bad? Willie Wonka sent Slugworth after those Golden Ticket winners...

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