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Old March 7th, 2004, 10:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ruby vs. Ruby (very long)

Received this from (unmaned) this morning. Some of you may already heard the story. I feel like it's something we need to be aware of. I'm not familiar nor affiliated with Paul Ruby's amps. I left out where I got this from and name of sender just in case.

Part One
I‚ve promised not to pester folks on this list with frequent newsletters, but there is a breaking story that I think all guitarists should be made aware of immediately.

Some of you may have heard of „Ruby Tubes‰ which are, as nearly as I can tell, a line of re-branded tubes and other parts distributed by magicparts.com at premium prices. Others of you may also know a gentleman by the name of Paul Ruby, who builds extremely nice handmade guitar amps. I know Mr. Ruby only from having spent time in the amp builder‚s forum at AX84.com and from having drooled over a few of the amps on his web site. Mr. Ruby has been doing business as Ruby Amplification for quite some time and had a very nice web site at RubyAmps.com.

Recently, Mr. Ruby was apparently forced to close his web site, and may be forced to change the name of his business. I believe he is being steamrollered by attorneys working for Ruby Tubes and probably cannot afford to defend himself from their corporate machine. Mr. Ruby has been in business for quite some time, and no amp builder, technician, or musician is likely to confuse his hand-built custom amplifiers with anything sold by Ruby Tubes or „magicparts.com.‰ He also had a very clear and prominent disclaimer on his web site that he was not in any way associated with Ruby Tubes. Frankly, it seems to be the consensus of the amp builders on the AX84.com forum that Ruby Tubes would have more to benefit from being confused with Mr. Ruby than the other way around!

For a long time Mr. Ruby has been an active and very helpful participant in the AX84.com forums ˆ to the point that it wouldn‚t be unreasonable to say that he has sometimes cheerfully trained his competition! I don‚t have any personal stake in this, but it makes me sick to see a nice guy have his livelihood threatened by what I consider to be naked corporate greed. No, wait, maybe I do have a personal stake in this - I think that every one of us has a stake in standing up against corporate greed and the misuse of the legal system.

By the way, Mr. Ruby has not contacted me about this or asked for my help. In fact, he has been almost reticent the last few days. I do not know if he might be under some sort of gag restraint or is being advised not to raise a fuss or if perhaps he‚s just too mad to speak or write coherently (I would be, I‚m sure). All Mr. Ruby has said publicly to this point is, „JohnA is a good guesser.‰ JohnA is my username in the AX84.com forum and the only guess I‚ve made there recently was that Mr. Ruby‚s site was down not because it was hacked but because attorney‚s working for Ruby Tubes had forced the closure and he couldn‚t afford to defend himself. Why on earth would I guess such a thing, you ask? Well, for one thing there was the context (if you read the whole thread you‚d see it wasn‚t that tough to guess). For another, I‚ve been expecting to see a lot of this sort of thing ever since Microsoft successfully squashed Mike Rowe.

You may recall that a few weeks ago a kid by the name of Mike Rowe thought it would be funny to name his web site MikeRoweSoft.com. We all know how Microsoft‚s attorneys steamrollered Mike. That was an injustice, in my opinion (it‚s SUPPOSED to be okay to PARODY trademarks as long as it‚s not done maliciously). But, at least that was a minor injustice in that it was just a kid out on a lark and he really was capitalizing on the Microsoft trademark, even if only in jest.

However, I believe Mr. Ruby‚s case is another story entirely. There are several important differences:

1) Mr. Ruby was in no way capitalizing on Ruby Tube‚s name recognition. In fact he went to some lengths to distance himself from them which I find understandable because frankly most of the experienced amp builders on the AX84.com forums don‚t seem to have a particularly high regard for that product line.

2) This isn‚t even close to a parody of a name and it isn‚t a clever rhyme, homonym, or anything like that. It‚s just Mr. Ruby‚s name and product. If I were building amps I‚d certainly want to be able to use something like Atchley Amplification. Should I be prevented from doing so because someone else is manufacturing or marketing transistors or widgets with the Atchley name? It‚s one thing to be prevented from opening a restaurant with your name if you name is McDonald because, right or wrong, it can be REASONABLY argued that a restaurant with that name might be confused with the fast food chain. But, let‚s say your name is Smith. Should you be prevented from opening a restaurant called „Smith‚s Diner‰ because there is a butcher across town called „Smith‚s Meats?‰ Of course not. No one of reasonable intelligence is likely to confuse a butcher and a diner, even though both are in the food business. Likewise, no one of reasonable intelligence is likely to confuse a cu
stom amp
builder with a parts retailer ˆ especially when that amp builder clearly distances himself from said retailer. Unfortunately, it seems that it doesn‚t matter what is right, reasonable, or honorable, anymore. Apparently all that matters in America today is that „Smith‚s Meats‰ can afford attorneys and „Smith‚s Diner‰ can‚t.

3) Mr. Ruby has been doing business as Ruby Amplification for quite some time. I suppose it‚s just a coincidence that Ruby Tubes made this move right after Microsoft successfully squashed a seventeen year old kid and everybody laughed about it. Yeah, sure it is.

So, what should we do about this? You‚ll have to decide for yourself whether Mr. Ruby is being wronged and whether standing up for the rights of one „little guy‰ you may never know is worth your time and effort. For myself, I have already decided that unless Ruby Tubes and/or magicparts.com immediately withdraws any actions they may be taking against Mr. Ruby I will never purchase, use, recommend, endorse, or permit others to use in my equipment or purchase on my behalf; anything from Ruby Tubes or margicparts.com. I‚m also sending them a polite email to let them know of this decision. If I could afford it, I‚d also buy one of Mr. Ruby‚s amps. (Well, I‚d do that anyway if I could afford it!)

If you believe as I do that Mr. Ruby is being wronged and that this is a case of corporate aggression run amok you can take a few minutes to compose a polite, thoughtful e-mail to the folks at magicparts.com letting them know of your displeasure with their action against Mr. Ruby and your resolve not to use their products. Please do not use profanity, denigrating or threatening language, or send them „hate mail‰ ˆ that is counterproductive and will not help Mr. Ruby or you.

If you believe as I do that Mr. Ruby has been wronged you can spread the word to other musicians through whatever forums or other communities that you may be an active member of. Please DO NOT „spam‰ communities that you do not regularly participate in ˆ that is likely to do more harm to Mr. Ruby than good! If you choose to do this please protect yourself and avoid complicating things for Mr. Ruby (and myself). Stick to the facts, as we know them to this point.

Those facts are:

1. Mr. Ruby has been building premium amps, doing business as „Ruby Amplification‰ for quite some time. His is a real business, with actual paying customers, and presumably the income is at least part of Mr. Ruby‚s livelihood.

2. Mr. Ruby is well known and generally respected by the amp building community. He helps other builders selflessly, even when doing so could be seen as „training the competition.‰ He is not a „marketeer‰ capitalizing on his name, but a genuinely devoted amp builder who happens to be named Paul Ruby.

3. Mr. Ruby took appropriate steps to distance and differentiate himself from Ruby Tubes.

4. Mr. Ruby‚s site went down, displaying only the message „life sucks and then you die,‰ and there was some speculation on the AX84.com forum that the site had been hacked.

5. In the AX84.com forum I guessed that attorneys working for Ruby Tubes were shutting down Mr. Ruby and that he could not afford to defend himself and I offered to eat a brick if I was far off the mark.

6. In the AX84.com forum Mr. Ruby commented that I am a good guesser.

Remember, until we get more information that is ALL we know to be fact at this point. Don‚t put yourself at risk of libel or complicate Mr. Ruby‚s life or mine by making unfounded accusations.

Thank you for your patience and if you decide to take up pen (or keyboard) in Mr. Ruby‚s defense thank you for that as well. I would like to think that if anyone were ever to attack GuitarNuts.com you folks would do what you could to save it, and I‚m pretty certain that Paul Ruby and most of the other guys that hang out on AX84.com would do the same for us.

I will probably post another newsletter in the next few days if Mr. Ruby gives me specific information regarding this case (he may not be permitted too, I don‚t know). Other than that, I‚ll try not to bug y‚all with a lot of newsletters.

Thanks, and hopefully I‚ll be able to publish a happier newsletter next month,
(unmaned)

Part Two
Well, if I‚d waited an hour or so I only would have had to send one newsletter<sum>

I had emailed Paul Ruby and ask him for more specific information. I just received his reply.

Magic Parts sent him a cease and desist letter accusing him of „counterfeiting the ruby tubes web site and using their trademark, ruby, in an illegal and confusing manner in order to attract
internet users.‰ I‚ve been to his web site. And I‚ve been to their web site. His web site in no way resembled the Ruby Tubes/Magic Parts web site. Likewise, his logo in no way resembled the Ruby trademark. (In point of fact, the Ruby trademark is a graphic device of the word Ruby inside an outline that I guess is supposed to represent a tube, NOT the word Ruby.) Furthermore, as I mentioned in the previous newsletter, he had a prominent disclaimer that he was in no way associated with Ruby Tubes.

They are demanding that he give up his domain, RubyAmplfication.com (gee, they couldn‚t possibly want to capitalize on the customer good will HE‚S built up by nabbing HIS domain, could they?) Furthermore, they demand that he „never use the term Œruby‚ in any form.‰ Well, that‚s going to be interesting, isn‚t it ˆ it‚s his name. Does that mean he can‚t sign his name? Does he have to forward all his mail to them unopened if it has his name on it? Mr. Ruby informs me that he is probably going to have to abandon all online amp-related activities, such as his extreme helpfulness in the AX84.com forums, because the mere use of his name opens him up to legal action he can‚t afford to protect himself against.

Folks, I believe that this is wildly unjust. If any of you are lawyers, or have a good friend, spouse, etc. who is a lawyer and would be willing to give Mr. Ruby a little pro bono help, PLEASE come to Mr. Ruby‚s assistance. (He hasn‚t asked for this, by the way, I‚m asking it for all our sakes.) Do it not just for Mr. Ruby, but for all of us, this kind of corporate bullying has got to be stopped. If you can‚t contact him directly contact me and I‚ll put you in touch with him.

Finally, Mr. Ruby asked me to make it clear that he personally is „not trying to start a war against Ruby Tubes or Magic Parts.‰ I appreciate the delicate position Mr. Ruby is in (and as I mentioned earlier he has been downright reticent about this, I‚ve had to drag information out of him). But, frankly, it sounds to me like it is they who started the war, and not just against Mr. Ruby, but against all of us. Here‚s how I perceive it. I see a company that claims to sell high-quality parts for amplifiers taking specious action to shut down a legitimate „little guy‰ who builds custom amps ˆ a potential customer! If you use the analogy from my earlier message, that is akin to „Smith‚s Meats‰ shutting down „Smith‚s Diner‰ ˆ where does „Smith‚s Meats‰ expect to sell their meat after insulting and mistreating a prominent local restauranteur and all his restauranteur buddies?

If your name, first or last, is „Ruby‰ I hope you have no ambitions or dreams whatsoever of ever using your own name in any way related to music. And what about the rest of us? Well<sum>

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Once again, if you believe as I do that this is an injustice and that we have to make a stand, please help. If you have legal resources and can help Mr. Ruby directly, I‚m sure he‚d appreciate it, I know I will! The rest of us can let Ruby Tubes and Magic Parts know that they‚ve lost far more business than would ever have been „confused‰ by Mr. Ruby‚s „illegal use of‰ his own name.

It's past my bedtime,
(unmaned)

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Old March 7th, 2004, 10:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I wonder how the board of directors of these big companies sleep at night, knowing that they're little more than corporate facists eliminating all other competition, and if that's taken as a political comment then I guess that means that all money is political, in a corporate world.

Sorry, Ruby Amps... just another victim of corporate greed and consumer apathy :evil:
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Old March 7th, 2004, 11:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I know Paul Ruby from the 18watt Marshall site (www.18watt.com). He’s a really nice guy, posted loads of stuff there, always very helpful & very knowledgeable,; builds really nice 18watt clones (stunning amp, in case anyone still doesn’t know!) – that site is full of very knowledgeable people who really know about valve amps. Be a real shame if Paul is being troubled by Ruby Tubes or whatever they call themselves .

Ian.
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Old March 7th, 2004, 03:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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hmmm....

I can see both sides of the trouble from here, and would suggest a compromise: If Paul Ruby changed the name of his company and his amplifiers from "Ruby" to "Paul Ruby", I reckon that would be enough differentiation, and he would still be able to use his own name.

Cheers, Tim
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Old March 7th, 2004, 05:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yep, god bless corporate amerika. Well, parody is legal, so I'd just be childish enough to put up a website like http://www.RubyTubesShouldSpendMoreT...tfulOwners.com
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Old March 7th, 2004, 05:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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it's shameless greed. the american way.... or is it. sure looks like it these days
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Old March 10th, 2004, 02:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Ruby

This is a topic on another forum I read. I understand he's a nice guy and I've been on the ax84 and the 18watt sites and they are cool. However, there is a serious legal problem here. When considering the phrase "Ruby Tubes" vs. "Ruby Amplification", one should realize that a tube IS an "amplifier." I assumed the 2 companies were the same when I encountered the phrase "Ruby Amplification" a few weeks ago. I said to myself "so Ruby Tubes is marketing tube amps now, just like Grooves Tubes does." I was legitimately confused and therein lies the root of a potential legal problem. The potential for consumer confusion creates the legal issue and the Ruby Tubes lawyers know this of course. You cannot market something, even under your own name, if someone else already has the rights and the consumer could be confused between the 2. It apparently could have been dealt with in a better way, w/o lawyers perhaps.
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Old March 10th, 2004, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Having used Ruby tubes before (bleck!), Ruby Amplification should be suing Ruby Tubes for name association!
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