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Inkquiring Minds: TWSBI Declares WAR on Moonman and Narwhal

05/17/2022

Are you interested in a pen world controversy? This excellent video lays it out nicely and some of the comments add to the tale. If nothing else, it is a distraction from world events and the political posturing the media serves us.

Full disclosure: I am months into writing an extensive review of converter pens offered by Moonman, Delike and Majohn. A Delike New Moon 2 fude has been my #1 pen for over a year while the TWSBI 580 hasn’t been filled once. The Delike is a better fit in my hand, is very attractive and its nib is perfect for my journal paper and line-spacing. It’s my if-you-could-only-choose-one pen.

Knockoffs are a frustrating and regrettable hazard these days and certainly China is the worst offender. TWSBI considers Moonman and others to be selling copies of some of their models. Basically, TWSBI has told retailers if they sell Moonman and related pens, they can no longer sell TWSBIs. If TWSBI had a patent on their piston-filler mechanism, I would support enforcing it, but they don’t. If they haven’t filed for one, why not?

Business is business you say? Well, I don’t have to give TWSBI my business or anyone else for that matter. Make a good product and offer it at a fair, dollar-for-value price, and people will come. That’s the best way to beat the competition.

Delike New Moon 2 with a fine fude nib.

10 comments

  1. I don’t know if TWSBI is in the right here,but just because they don’t have a patent doesn’t mean that Moonman isn’t selling knockoffs of their pens. Likewise, offering products for a fair dollar-for-value price only works when competitors also play fair and are bound to the same rules and regulations and that’s certainly not the case when it comes to Chinese companies.
    Kaweco had good reasons for their actions against Moonman and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something similar is behind this as well.

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    • TWSBI has stated that the piston filler is the issue – not the pens. Please watch the video so you can see exactly what is in dispute. It is well done and includes the letter TWSBI sent their retailers.

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  2. I know the reasons given by TWSBI, what I was pointing out is that the publicly stated reasons aren’t necessarily the real reasons for their decision as has been the case with Kaweco as well.
    This is also briefly addressed in the video and discussed in more detail in the comment section btw.

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    • Thank you. I read the comments before I wrote my post, and found a lot of speculation rather than facts. That might be entertaining but that is all. TWSBI sent the letter that is shown in the video and that is a fact. Unless there have been other remarks by the company, my inclination is to take that letter as representing their motives and what they find objectionable about the Moonman piston-filler mechanism. If you know of something else they have written or said about the situation, I would be happy to add an update to my original post. Just reply to my comment with a link to the information. Thank you.

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      • While I agree that there is lots of speculation in the comments, there are also a couple of facts mentioned. The two most important ones are that TWSBI explicitly states that they have a problem with the Chinese OEM manfucturer Narwhal, Moonman and other brands source their products from and that the issue is the copying of their design(s).
        TSWBI is referring to the engineering design here and while that is (automatically) protected in most countries, this isn’t necessarily the case in China and has caused (and is causing) problems for all sorts of industries.
        As I said initially, I don’t know if TWISBI has a case here or not. However, either way this has nothing to do with patents and it is also not an area where you could file for one even if you wanted to.
        That’s pretty much all I wanted to point out, patents have nothing to do with this, there is no way TWSBI could have filed for more efficient legal protection and it’s certainly not a situation where the solution is as straightforward as “make a good product and offer it at a sensible price and people will come”.

        Not all speculation is created equal either. I certainly find it notable that TWSBI explicitly mentions Kaweco (in a context that is rather nonsensical on the surface level as Dough points out in the video as well) and given how (social) media savvy and aware of the pen community TWSBI are, I also find it remarkable that they decided to take this approach when they must have known that this would create lots of negative publicity for them (especially since the same thing happened to Kaweco before).

        Of course one can choose to ignore all the speculation, take TWSBI’s actions at face value (whatever that is supposed to mean in this case) and decide to boycott one brand or the other.

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        • Points taken. IMO TWSBI squandered goodwill by playing the bully and trying to drive Narwhal out of business by threatening retailers. They have done what they think is right for them. For those who disagree or are offended, there are many other pen manufacturers who would love to have their business.

          To my knowledge, there is no boycott save what an individual decides to purchase or not. Frankly, I never gave Narwhal a thought until this situation emerged, but today I took a good look at what they offer. In essence, TWSBI gave them a ton of publicity. Amazingly, in all that I read and watched there wasn’t a single negative review. Even comments on YouTube were positive.

          None of that addresses the dispute with the manufacturer of the piston fillers. On that I am in over my head as I am not an attorney nor do I have any expertise in patents or copyrights.

          However, I am a pen user and the two TWSBIs I owned were not right for me. I sold the ECO and have found that the 580 might get inked, but seldom used. Based on that alone, I wouldn’t buy another TWSBI though I might consider a Narwhal.

          I don’t know if their strongarm tactics are justifiable, but they are off-putting. Consider it an asterisk next to the TWSBI name.

          Again, TWSBI can do what it wants, but so can I.

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  3. If they can show more than five differences between the designs then there is no infringement.
    Size is one comparison.. but the materials they are using is an obvious difference.
    As you say may things available at sensible prices then economics will win as well as quality.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Good to know. Unfortunately, TWSBI may win the battle whether deserving or not should retailers capitulate to the ultimatum. If a bigger company can destroy a smaller company with bully tactics, we all lose. TWSBI has squandered goodwill they may never recover. Will they gain sales as a result of their tactics or will buyers prefer an untainted brand? Will sellers rue the day they bowed to TWSBI’s demand? Will other manufacturers do something similar? Saga to be continued.

      Liked by 1 person


      • I notice that Jet Pens is still selling several of the brands you mention! Doesn’t look like they have caved!…..Yet!

        Liked by 1 person


        • Their Moonman inventory is low but that could be supply chain issues. Hopefully, it is that rather than capitulation, but that is something we may never know. In the long run, I’d rather see more variety than not. As a fickle pen and ink user, the more choices I have the better. Let me know if you run across other retailers who are selling the brands that have offended TWSBI. Curious to know who would be so bold.

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