You’d never think that the world of Nerf guns and dart shooters was so intense, but Hasbro apparently sued a blogger for leaking information about unreleased Nerf products he found on Chinese marketplace Taobao using the sweetest bait imaginable: free Nerf guns.
Urban Taggers is a blog about “assault blasters” for “kidults.” Essentially they cover Nerf guns and the like and are fairly popular in the space. The lead blogger, Pocket, ran a review of an unreleased gun. A few days later, he received a note from Hasbro offering some guns to giveaway to his readers. Eager to share the blaster love, he agreed and sent his address. That’s when his troubles began.
Immediately after the emails went back and forth, Pocket received a letter from Hasbro’s lawyers accusing him of IP theft. Fans of the site planned a boycott of Hasbro in Australia where Pocket is based. It looked like the great Nerf war of 2012 was about to commence, just as the Aztecs foretold.
I asked Hasbro about their decision to litigate and they explained that things weren’t exactly as they seemed. They wrote:
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.
Arguably, this seems to be a matter of one hand not knowing what the other is doing. Although Hasbro wants to support the blogging community – heck, I love me some Nerf – they also want to heavy-handedly go after the blogging community by shooting expensive lawyers at them like so many whistling darts. In short, they want both their cake and their torts.