The Hyon USA cease and desist controversy is the latest vaping “scandal.” For those of you not familiar with the situation, is involves the Hyon USA Pi2 atomizer by Haus of Zombi and the Ivogo Evil Monk atomizer. When I chatted with company president Fernando Solis at Vape Summit III, he positioned the Pi2 as the industry’s first postless atomizer. The Ivogo Evil Monk is positioned as a non-post RDA. The implication is that Ivogo “borrowed” some of Hyon USA’s designs and incorporated them into the Evil Monk. Ivogo is known primarily for its clone products. Earlier in July, several vape reviewers received Hyon USA cease and desist emails, or more precisely pre-cease-and-desist letters. Some of the reviewers interpreted the legal email as a threat and many of their readers/viewers attacked Hyon USA. Yesterday, I chatted with Fernando at Monster Vape Lounge to get his explanation on the Hyon USA cease and desist controversy.
In the interview below, Fernando explains his side of the Hyon USA cease and desist matter. He said that the letters were meant to start a dialogue with reviewers and were not meant to threaten them. In his mind, these actions are relatively banal and not the big deal that some are making them out to be. While I understand what he was trying to do from business and legal standpoints, I believe that company should have used a lighter touch. I mentioned my experiences reviewing products in the consumer electronics and videogame businesses to Fernando; in some cases legal inquiries were sent to my publisher and in other cases the situation was gently handled by PR reps. Of course those two businesses are much larger and more established than vaping; most popular vape reviewers don’t have publishers to answer to and proper vaping PR is mostly nonexistent.
Going after Internet reviewers is always a tricky thing. Many of them have thousands of fans that are influenced by their works. It’s easy for an established reviewer to get people to think highly of a company and it’s easier for reviewers to generate hate (it’s the Internet, after all). While I respect many vaping reviewers, for the most part they lack the professionalism of reviewers that I’ve worked with in gaming and electronics. Add it all up — relatively young business + unprofessional reviewers + a Hyon USA cease and desist letter — and you have a difficult PR situation. Again, I understand what Hyon USA was trying to do from a business standpoint, but I believe that the company could have handled the situation better.
My take is that there was no malice intended with the Hyon USA cease and desist action, but I definitely understand why people would disagree. I like Hyon USA’s products, I like how the company does business, and I like Fernando. Personally, I think he created more work for himself, but he also created an opportunity. The Hyon USA brand is getting lots of exposure and the company has a chance to turn some of the haters into new customers. See of yourself in the interview below. If you have a chance, please let me know what you think of the Hyon USA cease and desist situation after you’ve watched the video.