Nerf guns at 10 paces: Hasbro faces boycott after siccing lawyers onto fan site
US-based toy multinational Hasbro is embroiled in a damaging Internet scandal after it marshalled henchmen representing global lawyers Baker & McKenzie to take aim at an online fan for posting photos of his favourite Hasbro Nerf guns.
The saga, in which Hasbro allegedly tricked a Canberra based public servant Martyn Yang into revealing his home address so they could serve him with a legal letter, has now been referred to the NSW Legal Services Commissioner and this morning became the subject of a rapidly-spreading anti-Hasbro meme.
Last month, Yang, who scours the internet for the latest Nerf, Lazer Tag and Super Soaker scoops on his popular hobbyist toyblaster blog Urban Taggers, was sitting at home when he received an unexpected email from Hasbro’s Pacific Product Manager Leigh Gibson. Gibson was writing with an apparent offer of some exclusive Nerf loot:
On 15 March 2012 12:27, Gibson, Leigh
I have some of the above [Nerf Pinpoint Sights] in our office I can give to you as a giveaway – noticed you were wanting to know if they are in Australia. We ordered some as a gift with purchase but haven’t used them anywhere yet. Please let me know if you are interested and I can see how many we can spare.
Yang, who goes by the online handle ‘Pocket’, replied positively, and was keen to launch a giveaway for his legion of fans:
Sent: Thursday, 15 March 2012 3:06 PM
To: Gibson, Leigh
Subject: Re: The Nerf Pinpoint Sight
Thanks so much for your email, and good to hear from an official Hasbro channel! The Pinpoint sight IS probably one of the most sought after accessories so offering some to us for a giveaway would be fantastic and would definitely be a very popular prize. Did you have anything in mind you’d like to see us do/push/promote?
Gibson, CCing in her colleague, Assistant Product Manager Peter Weavers, wrote back to Yang within minutes, asking for his postal address.
From: Gibson, Leigh
Date: 15 March 2012 15:11
Subject: RE: The Nerf Pinpoint Sight
To: “Pocket Esq.”
Cc: “Weavers, Peter”
No – they aren’t for sale anywhere –
My colleague Pete will send some to you (plus one for yourself) if you can let us know where to send them. We should be able to spare 10 for giveaway so will send you 11 – Pete will confirm this qty.
But the Pinpoint Sights never arrived. Instead, six days later, Yang was sent a threatening letter from Baker & McKenzie partner Robert Arnold on behalf of Hasbro, demanding he remove “commercially sensitive information and copyright protected images about its unreleased N-STRIKE ELITE “RAMPAGE” BLASTER…”. Further, Arnold demanded that Yang provide him with the “name, address, email and IP address” of “the person that provided you with this information” within 24 hours.
Gibson appears to have used a false offer of free merch to dupe Yang into giving up his street address.
Yang fired back over email, agreeing to take the images down but, citing recent amendments to the Australian Evidence Act regarding a journalistic obligation to protect his sources, refused to name his informant, suggesting instead that Arnold check out mainstream shopping sites like Ebay and Taobao (the Chinese Ebay) if he wanted to get the lowdown on the latest Nerf products. Google might also be of assistance, Yang said, “to do a targetted search in the same way I do, using appropriate search parameters to narrow the scope of the search”. Crikey found the Strike Rayven within a few clicks …
Arnold wanted a follow-up chat but not before Hasbro’s Weavers had bizarrely emailed again, saying he had “ordered 11 pin point sights for you. Can you please supply a delivery address?”
And Arnold wasn’t giving up either, claiming that Hasbro’s address request “had nothing to do with me”.
From: Arnold, Robert
Date: 30 March 2012 08:48
Subject: Nerf Rampage/Urban Taggers.com
To: Pocket Esq
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