Response to cyber-slander and overhyped Kickstarter uproar
False accusations regarding TORR and co-founder Allen Arseneau have circulated online since August 2012, claiming that TORR “stole” the TORR pen design from CW&T’s Pen Type A. We are grateful to our customers and investors for their continued support, but we would like to correct this slanderous misinformation for the general public.
TORR refrained from responding to this smear campaign, despite months of cyber-slander and attacks initiated on our competitor’s Kickstarter platform and blog posts written by its backers, in an attempt to keep a private dispute private.
We now publicly state three truths:
(1) TORR and Allen Arseneau have acted ethically and professionally at all times;
(2) The aesthetic look of TORR’s Blok pen, originally called TORR Classic, stems from a design that is public domain and used by a variety of manufacturers;
(3) TORR pen and Pen Type A are different pens, with different functions, for different markets.
Truth 1: A legacy of honor and perseverance
TORR is a Boston-based men’s gift company, founded by Allen Arseneau and Diana Hudak. We are committed to re-inventing traditional gifts for men, and are socially focused on helping US Veterans and children in need.
New York-based CW&T Studios launched a Kickstarter project, Pen Type A, in July 2011, pre-selling 5,000 pens and raising $280,000 in 30 days. After making a series of costly blunders due to its lack of large-scale manufacturing experience, CW&T agreed to an exclusive partnership with manufacturer JOIGA, for which Arseneau then worked, to help them fulfill their Kickstarter orders.
JOIGA subsequently invested more than $100,000 to resolve a major design flaw with CW&T’s pen and to set up and operate its custom manufacturing process.
But seven months later, CW&T reneged on their agreement. JOIGA, a start-up that was unexpectedly served lemons, decided to make lemonade by partnering with Arseneau to come up a different pen design, for a different market. Their efforts resulted in the TORR pen, successfully launched in 2012.
Truth 2: From surgical tool to gift for everyday man
TORR’s pen-in-ruler design stems from a surgical tool patented more than 30 years ago, released for common use in 1995. Patent USD258911 has been adopted by more than a dozen pen companies since then, with variations appropriate for different uses and markets.
“Ideas are limitless and patents expire for a reason: to encourage competition, innovation, and the evolution of new ideas that ultimately benefit the end user. If patents never expired, we would have only one car company, and the cars they develop would likely not be readily available and affordable to so many people all over the world. Imagine that!”
- Official statement by OXO, after being falsely accused of copying a Quirky design in 2013
Imagine if we were all still driving Model-T’s, and anytime someone made a new car with better gas mileage or safety features, the Ford Motor Company cried, “Thief!”
Truth 3: TORR pen and Pen Type A are not the same pen – not at all.
TORR pen is a beautifully crafted pen for everyday use. Pen Type A is a drafting pen for technical users. TORR is the reinvention of a traditional gift for men. It sports a secret compartment (parchment scrolls included!), is exceptionally well balanced, pops like a bottle of champagne when pulled from its jacket, has a patent-pending click-and-lock mechanism, can be personalized with laser engraving, and comes in a bamboo display and carry case. It accepts high-quality ink that is widely available, including Fisher Space ink – a pressurized refill that writes smoothly and evenly, upside down, and under water.
In contrast, Pen Type A is a minimalist drafting pen, with an ultra-fine tip, and comes in an equally minimalist white cardboard tube.
While we like our design best, we were not the first, or the only, to make a pen with some of our design features. Since 1995, there have been at least 15 pens that have either combined a ruler and pen, or make noise when used.
Looking Forward, Not Backward
Regardless of the coordinated efforts to disparage TORR, we have abstained from joining the fray. Our aim here is to put these false accusations to rest, so that we can all focus on what’s really important: our products and our customers.
We maintain our commitment to re-inventing classic and timeless gifts for men. We do this with high regard for the innovators and dreamers who came before us, and in hopes of sharing the journey with those who continue to push the envelope forward.
Together, we can all create wonderful products that make gift-giving for all a joyful experience.
Thank you for your support.