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A follow up to “Sony’s War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators” which is now making the rounds around the web and getting some great comments/discussions on the article (join in here).

I outlined seven examples of Sony punishing makers, hackers, and innovators, but saved the best one for its own post. Meet the 8th wonder of the world-of-Sony-suing, the retropod.

What’s the retropod? A case for an iPod made from an old Walkman, here’s what the maker said about it:

The RetroPod was a handmade iPod case created from a vintage Sony Sports Walkman shell. It was big, heavy, and yellow, and only mostly waterproof. You had to open the case to get at the iPod’s controls. I had a great time prototyping it, learning how to cast Nerf in the process! (But eventually settled on die-cut Neoprene)

After about a year of noodling around, I felt like I had a product I could sell. I convinced my friends Consuelo and Oraia to play the part of PBR-soaked Billyburg hipsters (instead of the decent, self-respecting punks they are in real life), and had a photo shoot during lunch in Madison Square Park (Flickr photo set here.) I marketed it as a retro-kitsch “love it/hate it” thing.

The completed case was sold for a hundred bucks (artisanal price), but there was also a do-it-yourself kit with some neoprene, measure drawings, and instructions offered for twenty dollars (DIY price).

What happened? Sony sent their lawyers after the maker…

“Sony recently learned that you are selling a case for carrying an iPod personal stereo that is made from a WALKMAN tape player. The product is being offered at your website at http://www.retropod.com.

Your use of casings for such a purpose is a clear infringement of the SONY and WALKMAN marks because it is deceptive. Consumers likely will be misled and deceived into believing that Sony is somehow connected with the iPod personal stereo when in fact it is not. Moreover, they will be misled into thinking that Sony is backward in its design of products and is going away from miniaturization, as the size of the tape player housing is quite large by today’s standards.

Accordingly, we demand on behalf of Sony that you immediately cease and desist from selling, or offering to sell or distributing your Retropod product…”

In my article “Sony’s War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators” apparently a Sony employee via a friend’s Facebook wall said:

..with all due respect, I work for Sony. I don’t see anything in this article that is different than what any other manufacturer would do. Not sure why this guy blogging from his basement (and you) feel the need to single us out. while the statements that are presented in this article may indeed be true, it is hardly a full and objective account of the whole situation. We both know the real world scenario is that there are hackers out there that are just looking for an opportunity to hack into a system like a PS3 and mess around and cause some damage because they can! When they’ve had their fun, who is left with the job and expense of cleaning up the damage to both the customers and the brand? SONY, not the hacker who has turned tale [sic] and run! I don’t see how you can criticize any company for trying to protect itself from copyright infringement and potential security risks.

Stay classy Sony. I invited this Sony employee to post here, hopefully they will – and ideally they could explain why the RetroPod maker needed to be bullied away via “copyright infringement and potential security risks”.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    In this case I’m on Sony’s side. If a maker wants to hack a commercial product for personal use that’s fine, but when you do it for commercial use you’re crossing the line. You can’t chop up someone else’s stuff and call it your own if the item still bears the marks of the original maker. In this case, a large part of the value of the mod comes from the Sony logo and cassette tape markings all over the box (if that weren’t true, you could hack a Pelican box and try to sell it and probably end up with very few customers). Sony is right to defend their brand and is obligated to do so because if they let this slide they may have to let even worse misappropriations slide.

    1. Billy says:

      I must disagree. What would happen if Ford/Chevy/etc went around suing every “hacker” who chopped an old car and made it their own (usually for resale). Do you think Ford/Chevy lawyers are going to show up at Boyd Coddington’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyd_Coddington shop and say the cars he made infringe on their marks?

      1. You do realize that Boyd removes all original logos/hood ornaments/other trademarked markings from the vehicles he modifies, right? Whereas this is emblazoned with both the Sony Logo and the Walkman trademark?

      2. NikonErik says:

        I say if Sony goes after individuals, it’s up to those folks to deal with Sony . . . Those folks are the unfortunate casualties of the DIY/Maker/Open Source Movement that is sweeping the world and may even usher us into the next Big Thing . . .

        Too bad that Sony can’t simply ask that their Logo be removed or obscured!

      3. Timothy Gray says:

        Like the Evil Saleen and Roush cmpanies that take Ford Mustangs and drastically improve the car and reell them as “Roush Racing edition” and Saleen Mustangs.

        They are taking a product, modifying it, and reselling it. EXACTLY like the Walkman ipod case. He is not casting the case copies in plastic and manufacturing them. He is destroying a sony product to create one. It’s 100% legal and sony is just proving to the world they hate consumers.

        1. Stephen Carr says:

          i have to disagree with that too… since they get permission to modify it FROM the manufactures. and once again: they have modified the look of the car. NOWHERE do they make a car, and sell it as a mustang, looking exactly as a mustang, without any external badging changes. they add their own badges, and work WITH the company that made the original car.

          if the original manufacturer allows to modify it, there is no-one to sue.

    2. Anonymous says:

      reselling something is ok, sony’s broken culture is not…

      The first-sale doctrine is a limitation on copyright that was recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1908 (see Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus) and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109. The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell, lend or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This means that the copyright holder’s rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy ends once ownership of that copy has passed to someone else, as long as the copy itself is not an infringing copy. This doctrine is also referred to as the “right of first sale,” “first sale rule,” or “exhaustion rule.”

      In 1979 Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. (often called “The Betamax Case”), determined that because the VCR was capable of substantial noninfringing uses, copyright owners objecting to infringement could not prevent its sale. The ruling, coupled with the high price of the first few movies on VHS and Betamax tapes ($50 each) created a large market for home video rental. Retailers purchased the expensive tapes and rented them to consumers at an affordable price, while studios earned considerable revenue from volume sales to rental stores. First-sale doctrine excused these merchants from seeking permission from the copyright holders

      a few years ago i bought a rotary phone from sparkfun that’s actually a cell phone, very diy – just like the retropod – it had at&t or bell on it, should at&t have sued sparkfun for a phone that some people would get confused with at&t over – a slow network, that can’t make calls or something?

      1. Hmm, I think the issue is this:

        If you have a second hand walkman, and you sell it, you are covered by fair use.

        The issue here is whether the modification (which turns it from the original product – to a ‘new product’) could be seen as trying to sell an item as a new product with the sony name on it.

        I like the idea, but I agree with mark_reh above, that once you start commercially selling it, then the person who owns the original trademark has the right to protect it. Otherwise, there would be nothing to stop someone from taking an iPhone case and stuffing it with a cheap nasty cellphone interior, and selling it as an iPhone.

        Part of the problem with this, is trademark law itself. You have to be seen to protect your trademark, otherwise future infringements can cite this example.

        I have one of these walkmans at home, and would rather keep it for the original use, although it is a great idea!

        1. Anonymous says:

          what about this leather “walkman” case…

          http://www.etsy.com/listing/68173626/leather-ipod-iphone-itouch-case

          sued or not sued?

          1. Greg Hora says:

            That person wisely left off the brand name Sony on their design. I don’t know if the “walkman” font was copyrighted, but that is really the only thing linking it to the original product.

          2. No…the “Sony” brand is right there. Upper left hand corner of the case.

            Doesn’t matter to me though. The folks at Sony are jerks.

          3. I’m pretty sure that under the existing law both Sony (for the Walkman trademark) and Atlantic Records (For the Atlantic logo on the cassette) would have grounds for a C&D for unauthorized use of their trademarks. And, I’m sure if the Etsy artist got press by Newsweek, Endgadget, etc. they’d get noticed by Sony and sent a C&D.

            Whether or not you like the law or agree with the law doesn’t change the existence or validity of the law. This isn’t about using the case, it’s about selling in item bearing a trademark that they have no right to. If the Retropod project had simply painted over the logos, or even put a different word in the same font, they’d have been in much better shape, legally.

          4. Honus says:

            Unfortunately that would be an example of trademark infringement regarding the Walkman name since it is a new product- except in Austria.

            http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2002/06/53040

            I remember when a company I used to work for couldn’t legally sell it’s own product in Germany for a brief period of time because their German distributor had trademarked the company name. They had to sue their own distributor to retain their trademark rights.

        2. Anonymous says:

          They’re infringing on Sony’s copyright. How would Make like it if I made a magazine that directly used their logo marks?

      2. Anonymous says:

        Actually, sadly, first sale has been destroyed for items not made in the US: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/12/supreme-court-lets-ban-on-gray-market-imports-stand.ars

    3. Yeah even though it leaves me with the vague taste of bile in my throat to say it, I agree that Sony really does have a point with this one. It’s a cool hack and a clever way to get yourself a good water resistant project box but as a commercial product it does cross a line. If he were selling the kit/plans as generic instructions for converting an old portable tape player it would be one thing but he’s clearly trying to cash in on the Sony/Walkman branding which he’s using to market it as a “…as a retro-kitsch “love it/hate it” thing.”

      If he’d done the smart thing and put some tape over the Sony logos and not mentioned them by name on his site or was only selling the DIY kit for converting your own personal Walkman to an iPod case then I’d be on his side. As it stands though I think the C&D letting from Sony was justified. Honestly I’m a little surprised he didn’t get one from Apple too, who are also very prickly about people using their trademarked terms without a license agreement of some sort.

      1. Anonymous says:

        should this person who made a guitar amp from an atloids tin be sued too?

        http://www.etsy.com/listing/62176315/altoids-pocket-guitar-mp3-amp-with

        someone might confuse altoids with a gutiar amps and wreck their brand…

        1. Greg Hora says:

          Wouldn’t that be an example of the “first-sale” doctrine? They bought the altoids case and then modified it. If they “built” a brand new altoids case from scratch and then tried to sell it then it would probably be infringement.

        2. Stephen Carr says:

          honestly, yes. If Altoids wanted to sue them, they could. but the thing is: they don’t. they realize that a percentage of their sales is due to the sweet tins, and their uses once the mints are gone.

        3. Phil,

          Couple points one the Retropod guy wasn’t sued. He was sent a cease and desist letter, which admittedly is pretty much a stop or we’ll sue threat, but he wasn’t actually sued.

          Second I think you’re making a poor analogy with that etsy link. The relationship between the retropod and the walkman is more like if I were making my own candies and packaging them in Altoids tins, in which case I think we’d all agree that Altoids would be justified in stopping that. If the retropod was in fact a mint tin disguised as a Walkman then I’d be totally on this guys side in the dispute. On top of that Altoids explicitly condones the use of their tins for other purposes, their reusability is mentioned in the FAQ on the Altoids website.

          If it makes you feel better I haven’t bought any Sony products for at least a decade when I realized how openly hostile they had become to their users.

          I’ll admit to being a little hostile towards the maker simply for using the phrase “PBR-soaked Billyburg hipsters” because of what I had to endure on google to figure out what he was talking about.

    4. Timothy Gray says:

      Kit car industry is BUILT around this.
      The Tesla roadster is EXACTLY this .. Tesla does not make those cars, they take a Lotus Eliese and modify it into a Tesla roadster.

      I’m not on sony’s side. It’s a Bohemian art/product. he is buying old sony product, gutting it and selling the case repurposed.

      1. Stephen Carr says:

        i disagree. kit cars use parts that are (for instance) a fiero, to make a car that LOOKS like a Lamborghini. but, they do not sell a Lamborghini, or even a car they named themselves, using a fiero, while LEAVING the Ponitac, and Fiero badging on it.

        His DIY kit is like a kit car (and as far as i can tell, he is not getting in trouble for that), but his finished product (the artisan piece) would be like if Tesla left the externals of the Lotus intact, and it still said “Lotus” on it. Tesla changes enough externally, that it no longer says Lotus, and is not exactly a lotus externally (but any car guy can see that it USED to be a Lotus.)

      2. Anonymous says:

        The Tesla isn’t a kit car, and Tesla motors licensed the engineering from Lotus, so not exactly comparable.

      3. Malcolm Faed says:

        Just to be pedantic, Tesla buy gliders (car without drive train and batteries) , designed and built by Lotus in the UK.

  2. vrimj says:

    This is why I stopped buying Sony a while ago. I can’t avoid everyone who disrespects the exchange of ideas and denies transformative uses though aggressive litigation, but I can stay away from the ones I find most offensive.

    I really wish someone would start offering fair use insurance for maker and artists. This might have been a edge case but if we are going to have reasonable IP law we need an interest to fight the edge cases.

  3. Soltana says:

    I know, Sony. It’s better that those old Walkmen end up in the landfill rather than you getting free advertising from someone else’s innovation.

  4. Anonymous says:

    i see the biggest problem here as this:

    sony did not offer an independant, self-motivated, business minded individual an opportunity, they take iaway. That is an attitude problem. i mean, they probably have a shatload of those cases around somewhere, with no potential, practical, and effecient use for them. but i speculate… the point is that the situation is seen as VERSUS them, when the makers position is matter of factly a “WITH THEM” position.

  5. Anonymous says:

    i see the biggest problem here as this:

    sony did not offer an independant, self-motivated, business minded individual an opportunity, they take iaway. That is an attitude problem. i mean, they probably have a shatload of those cases around somewhere, with no potential, practical, and effecient use for them. but i speculate… the point is that the situation is seen as VERSUS them, when the makers position is matter of factly a “WITH THEM” position.

  6. This is MEH WAR. I suggest a new competition, called C&D trollin. We all come up with stupid, satirical products and post fake sites to “sell” em on. The person with the most cease and desist letters at the end of the year wins some pot o money equal to the approximate amount of money the lawyers would have billed to write said letters. In this way we cost sony (or other big business) two things, the small amount of money the lawyers charged them to write the letters, and the opportunity to expand into a new market since the IP had been exposed to the public.

    For each product we invent and publish, is one less that the big companies can claim at the patent office.

    So who likes the idea? Lets start some trouble for em!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Problem with that is, the lawyers may well be the source of this (as a money grab), so that strategy just benefits the lawyers.

  7. Honus says:

    That is just nuts. I would have sent their lawyers a Betamax tape with the message “Come get me.” Sony would have had a very toguh time in court with this one.

  8. Greg Hora says:

    If he would have only stayed in the true “Maker” spirit of re-purposing or improving an EXISTING item they probably would have been fine. They would have then been able to claim the first-sale privilege since they actually bought the trademarked item first. However, since they chose the route to make this item from scratch and use Sony’s trademarks then they’re liable for infringement. As other people have mentioned here, this seems pretty straight forward….

    1. Anonymous says:

      greg, he used a pre-purchased, discarded 25 year old plastic shell from a sony walkman.

      1. Greg Hora says:

        Really? Ah…I misunderstood! If he did re-use the case then I switch my argument totally. Yes, then this would be a perfect case for the first-sale doctrine.

    2. Gary says:

      Legal ground to stand on or not, in my world, Sony Still Sucks.

      1. True dat. I’ve run into so many issues with Sony products, just from a customer’s standpoint, not even a maker standpoint. Horrible, horrible tech lock-in that I’ve been bitten by too many times. Digital-8 camcorder, AVCHD HD video file format, Memory Sticks. UGH! I now intentionally steer clear of any Sony tech for my home purchases.

        On a related note, what (large) companies have folks found that *are* maker friendly. We’ve got Altiods, sure, and Microsoft with the whole Kinect thing. Google’s always been pretty open standards and welcoming fo people who hack their stuff into neat shapes.

        1. Konica did not sue me for my stereo camera hack, they were very positive and nice!
          Later on a German company started to produce stereo cameras made from dual Konica and Yashica cameras without any problems as far as I know. How about all modded cars out there?
          http://cameramaker.se/stereo.htm

  9. Anonymous says:

    Of course this is a money grab. The current climate in the corporate brand world is to sue, or threaten to sue, someone as soon as the possibility of an infringement exists. The problem is not just sony. The problem is the entire system. That is how we get to the position where companies feel they can attack everyone. They are doing this as a means of intimidation. Of course they want any money they can suck from this, but more importantly, they want us all to worship the idea of the brand image so we keep pushing the feed button, in the form of even more pointlessly expensive time wasters, without ever questioning why the number of innovating electronic manufacturers is shrinking rather than exploding. This is just another example of corporate greed and arrogance. Copyright laws exist as a means for people to make sure that another person is not trying to steal their brand or do it undue harm. All the legalize added is just bs from the lobbying corporate world.

  10. Gary says:

    Several years ago I bought a high-end DVD player from Sony. It was buggy out of the box, but with a little TLC it lasted until a few days beyond the warranty. I had been yakking with Sony off and on about this device from the get-go. Once it was outside the warranty period, all I got back from them was “Sucks to be you”.

    Never bought anything Sony since then – never will again.

    1. Big says:

      That is exactly what I have the infamous Sony paper weight. Still never buying Sony especially when I see stuff like this.

  11. Stephen Carr says:

    so, i were to buy a copy of make magazine, and gut the pages out, and then replace those pages with a blank notebook (fully intact, i might add) would that not the same? and would that not be a violation that i COULD be sued for, if was trying to sell it as a comercial product, with the
    MAKE logo on it, even though MAKE did not endorse it?

    1. Anonymous says:

      hi stephen – MAKE would not send a C&D or sue you.

      1. Whether or not you’d send a C&D doesn’t matter. You would have the legal grounds to do so. If you don’t, you stand to lose control over the Make trademarks, which could have all sorts of ramifications down the line, including loss of the domain rights to makezine.com. Given the size of Make, this isn’t a huge loss if it were to happen, but with a publicly traded company like Sony, loss of control over a trademark worth a significant sum of money could be grounds for the shareholders to sue for fiduciary irresponsibility.

        So then there becomes a choice, piss off a few makers, and lose a couple thousand dollars in sales, or lose control of a multi-million dollar brand, face shareholder lawsuits, and a drop in stock value (overall costs in the several millions of dollars range).

        Are there better business models that will allow for makers and creative re-use of the products? Hell yes, see the aforementioned Altoids philosophy. But don’t expect a monolithic megacorporation to adopt such a philosophy in any situation but a last resort.

      2. Stephen Carr says:

        well, see that is the difference. you are like the altoids. you made something, and if someone futzes with it… you don’t care (well honestly you probably would like it).

        while you would have grounds, you wouldn’t do it.

        whereas sony… well they can and would. they have the right, and it sounds like they might. (i am still highly dubois if sonay actually contaced him or not…)

        and while i am at it:
        i think i might just do that. (not for selling, but for more of a personal use) that would be a SWEET notebook!

      3. vrimj says:

        Hum.
        I wonder if my tablet PC would fit inside a Make magazine that was hollowed out…

  12. Steve Hoefer says:

    Unfortunately this is one of those circumstances where the person who can afford more lawyers wins. And that always means the entrepreneur, the smart guy in his garage, and the people who love making stuff because its fun, loose.

    I always suspected this is what happen when you have IP lawyers on staff. If there’s not enough legitimate people to go after (making knock-offs and genuine trademark infringements) they get antsy and start going after people who actually enhance the brand.

  13. Parker Miner says:

    This is not a valid case for Sony. They are alleging that his modification might mislead people; but there is no law to protect how people think about a product. The reality is, he owned a product and is reselling it. What he did with the innards is a non-issue as it was his property. It is not counterfeiting because he is not marketing it as a working Walkman in its original condition with all working parts–he is selling it as a “make your Walkman useful again” product. It is not Copyright infringement because he did not put their marking on his own product, it was already there.

  14. Jason King says:

    Phil,

    As much as I disagree with much of Sony’s legal history, I would have to agree with a good number of the above posters; the issue stems from selling a product commercially that is clearly branded with Sony’s logo.

    You cite a bunch of anecdotal cases that Sony has not sued various people who have listed Sony-related or recycled items on Etsy. Remember, anecdotal cases are not evidence and make for a weak argument. I think you are letting emotional issues get in the way of logic here.

    I think the important thing is to vote with your wallet. If you have a problem with Sony, simply do not use or purchase Sony products.

    1. Anonymous says:

      hey jason, all the lawyers i’ve spoken with said it was a flimsy case at best and if it went to court, they would have lost. most of the comments here agree, but that doesn’t matter, it’s not internet-court. this example plus the previous 7 show sony isn’t a friend of makers, hackers and innovators – it’s our job to celebrate companies that “get it” and it’s also our job to point out the ones that are abusing the legal system in a way that harms makers…

      1. Jason King says:

        I think we can all agree that any time lawyers get involved, all parties lose. Nonetheless, I don’t consider define “Maker” as someone that tries to profit from a clever hack or project. Sure, this guy is a Maker, and I think the project is neat, but he clearly took a step too far here.

        If Sony goes after someone who is hacking their devices for non-commercial gain, then I’d be upset (for example, George Hotz). In this case, I don’t think it’s fair to deride Sony for stopping someone for riding on their coattails.

        1. Anonymous says:

          clearly took a step too far? it’s not clear at all – parker just posted pretty much what i was about to reply with…

          “This is not a valid case for Sony. They are alleging that his modification might mislead people; but there is no law to protect how people think about a product. The reality is, he owned a product and is reselling it. What he did with the innards is a non-issue as it was his property. It is not counterfeiting because he is not marketing it as a working Walkman in its original condition with all working parts–he is selling it as a “make your Walkman useful again” product. It is not Copyright infringement because he did not put their marking on his own product, it was already there. “

  15. Adam Ödlund says:

    Seriously, what has become of our beloved make..
    are you turning into a fundamentalist group that has to hate corporations just because they arent “makers” of blinky LED kits. I wholehartedly support the “maker” scene, and ill continue to read the blog daily, aswell as buy the mag ofcourse, but PLEASE dont get lost in your whole diy-as-a-subculture ideas to the point where u feel the need to lash out at a corporation in this manner like theyre the “enemy”. His product is a blatantly obvious infringement on sonys copyrights. i dont give two ***** about sony myself, not pro or con.. but this isnt a Gibson novel, corporations aren’t the “enemy”.

    1. vrimj says:

      It would infringe the copyrights if he made a copy, not by using an original. See others who explained and spotted the first sale doctrine better then I.

      I am all for reasonable IP law, but lets not forget that it was designed to balance interests not to create absolute rights.

    2. Anonymous says:

      hi adam, we’ve been doing MAKE for over 6 years – tens of thousands of posts and thousands of articles, this is one of the few – if not the only 2 articles like this. as you can see the opinions vary here about this maker’s ipod case, it’s not a “blatantly obvious infringement on sonys copyrights”. all the IP lawyers i talked to said sony would have lost if it went to court.

      1. Adam Ödlund says:

        first of all, I just want to say that i appreciate all your labour, and i love the site and zine, dont get me wrong. I just reacted to what i thought was a rather unnecessary post. but thats just my opinion ofcourse. I totally agree with the last post about sonys questionable deeds, however i dont see this as being in the same league as, say the sony bmg rootkit. Granted im not even from the US, so i dont claim any expertise in whatever regional copyright laws may apply in this case. However, as far as i can tell “The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell, lend or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This means that the copyright holder’s rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy ends once ownership of that copy has passed to someone else, as long as the copy itself is not an infringing copy.” like u qouted. As far as i can tell “a copy” in this case refers to a single copy of a product, not a copy as in look-a-like, right? And obviously his product was not “a particular lawfully made copy”, or there wouldnt be a problem in the first place. If i would buy a bunch of ipad shells and sell them as an android tablet case called “Idroid” or whatever, im pretty sure apple would have the right to sue right?

        1. Adam Ödlund says:

          just to clarify my point, what he was selling was not a sony walkman, but a totally different product under his own brand name, which as far as i can tell makes the first-sale doctrine irrelevant no matter wether he repurposed parts of the original product or not. Its like claiming first-sale doc. for selling your own brand of coca-cola, in an identical can, because the aluminium was recycled from original coke cans…. correct me if im wrong

          1. Anonymous says:

            lots of people make and sell sculptures out of coca-cola cans, coke does not sue them.

            http://www.google.com/images?q=coke+can+art

          2. Adam Ödlund says:

            thats a good point. I’m sure that he wouldnt get a c&d if he would sell the product as a handcrafted clique curiousity. like lots of ppl have stated earlier tho, the problem was that he marketed it as being his product, while retaining at the very least two undisputable trademarks.
            this is not a case of selling a piece of art. this is a case of selling a functional product, bearing another trademark-holders logotypes, and all the neoprene padding in the world cant change that fact.

          3. Parker Miner says:

            Adam, the Walkman Sport was a real product, that he really already had, and that he didn’t make a fake copy of. all he did was put some foam inside the REAL sony product to allow his ipod to fit snuggly in the already cleverly designed (by sony) case. He is not attempting to defraud anyone into thinking the ipod is Sony, nor is he deceiving people by leaving the logo on the legitimate sony product. He is not marketing the Walkman as his product, he is marketing the Modification of that product as his idea. that is why it isn’t copyright infringement. this… ( http://www.tomsguide.com/us/iphone-walkman-vinyl-sticker,news-8469.html ) on the other hand could possibly be infringement unless it falls under “fair use” for art’s sake.

          4. Adam Ödlund says:

            i think you might have misinterpreted my point parker.
            I never mentioned defrauding. In fact, i’m kinda on his side. I think that sonys claims in relation to people mistaking the ipod for a sony product etc. is just bs i doubt that neither sony exec’s or their lawyers actually think that is an issue, but thats just how these things are formally done.
            Again, i dont think that he is a criminal who deserves punishment. However i think that sony are wrong to pursue this. The fact of the matter is that he didnt sell a “gutted walkman sport with padding in it”, he sold a “RetroPod” with Sony and Walkman logos on it…
            Im not defending Sony nor lashing out at the maker, im just defending sonys right to send a c&d, even tho i dont think he deserved to get one.

          5. Adam Ödlund says:

            edit: “However i DONT think that sony are wrong to pursue this” (+ english grammar :P)

  16. Anonymous says:

    One aspect forgotten about is that patents were initially conceived as a start-up enterprise initiative to help protect the newcomer against the guilds, not as a tool for a big corporation to get bigger.
    Sony also builds a reputation premium into its pricing – and it’s for that that I refuse to buy from them, uncompetitive practices.

  17. Apparently, some feel that if the thievery is done by a loner looking to scratch out a living, it’s OK.
    Sorry, but being swindled is the same regardless of who did the swindling.

    1. Anonymous says:

      hi kent, what did that maker “swindle” ?

  18. vrimj says:

    Reading the comments what surprises me most is how many people see IP as an absolute right rather then a nuanced collection of law that seeks to balance the rights of those who have innovated with those who are taking things the next step down the line.

    I know that “fair use” has largely disappeared from commercial settings because on the balance the risks and costs of getting sued seem cheaper the the “insurance” of licensing. What I did not realize is that this devils bargain had begun to infect the popular conception of IP and lead people to think that this right is far broader then it actually is.

  19. Looks like this isn’t a hacked sony product, but instead a brand new cast plastic shell embellished with the sony branding.

    This isn’t an example of sony attacking those hacking their products, but rather attacking someone making a product that appears to claim to be sony.

    Clever product, but it is traipsing all over Sony’s brand.

    1. Anonymous says:

      andrew, please read the site and the article it’s not “a brand new cast plastic shell embellished with the sony branding”.

      1. Ahh, I clearly misread the bits about casting. You are correct and I withdraw my original comment.

  20. Thebes says:

    Remind me again why I don’t buy Sony (TM!!!) Products?

    Oh yeah, because they are a bunch of self-important wankstains who believe in shafting their customers.

  21. Anonymous says:

    corporations are defined as competitive, externally, and (suposedly) internally cooperative. where is the inside outside drawn?

  22. In a way I’m Half/half… I say the Walkman case is an Awesome Idea but if you wanted to Market and sell it it should have been an Sony product Inside out… If the seller would have said “Use an old Walk man to build yourself a SONY MP3/MP4 PLAYER case” it would have been best for him AND for Sony.

    Maybe the DIY kit would have been more “open” to make the case fit “most MP3/MP4 players” without naming the brand and it would have been to the user to decide what they put in their case.

    I do understand that Sony doesn’t want it’s name linked to the iPod because even for Sony that would be looking for trouble. You talk about Sony being hard on people innovating with their product, well if you look at Apple and how aggressive they can be to defend their name I say it was only a matter of time for them to react to the “retro-pod”.