Over the last couple of hours, the PC builder/enthusiast community has blown up over a debate in which Thermaltake has allegedly copied the design of a popular Caselabs model; is that really the case though? (mind the pun)
Since the Computex 2015 announcement from Thermaltake regarding their new “Premium Line” of tower case, which I must admit, bares some simularities between the Premium Line W and the Merlin SM8; what do you think?
It is no secret that the corporate world and technological industries around the globe are partial to take other peoples ideas and making them better; Apple built an empire on re focusing current technology, repackaging it and re-inventing the wheel so to speak. But the main question here is, is Thermaltake in the wrong?
Kevin Keating who is the Vice President of Caselabs earlier today made an announcement on his personal Facebook page which reads:
“Fellow enthusiasts and case modders,
For those who know me, you know I am not a person to create drama. Nor am I a person to be dishonest, or try to slander someone out of spite. With that being said I can no longer hold my tongue about Shannon Rob “Case Designer” at Thermaltake. For those of you at Computex you may know what I’m talking about…
Thermaltake has just announced their “new” case line last night, the “new TT premium line W series extreme chassis”. It is more than evident this is a stolen concept. Not only did Shannon clone our Mercury line, with his Core line, but now they have stolen our MAGNUM and Merlin designs as well.
Sit back, here is how the story goes…
Back in July of 2013 we exhibited at PDXLAN 22 with 2 of our Merlin SM8 cases which we gave away (Matt Conwell hooked us up, and I must say he is an awesome person.). At this event people for the first time got to see us with one of our cases in person. We didn’t have a booth, but we got so much good feedback we decided to come back for PDXLAN 23, but this time as an official sponsor of the event. We got a booth and we brought a bunch of different cases to show off including the Mercury case line (S3, S5 and S8). It was at this time we found out Thermaltake was a major sponsor if this event (and have been) and their case designer, Shannon, was in attendance (as he usually is). Shannon was introduced to my dad (CL owner) and I via a mutual friend. Shannon then proceeded to tell us how much he liked our cases, and he was a big fan. He seemed very genuine, and overall a nice person. He started asking us about our cases and said, “Wow I wish our company made cases like this, can I take some pictures to send to our R&D department?” A bit flabbergasted I told him no which he then replied, “Well I guess we will just buy one then.” I was a little put off, but whatever. I shrugged it off, and kept talking to him about the cases. Oh and I almost forgot… Thermaltake did buy one of our cases back in September of the 2013, just 2 months after we showed off the Merlin SM8 for the first time. I guess he wasn’t kidding when he said he would just buy a case…
Next event, PDXLAN 24. We had a Mercury S3 we brought with us for Sapphire. They liked the fact that it was horizontal with a window on the side so they could show off their GPU. Thermaltake, AKA Shannon, gave Sapphire an AIO 240 cooler for the build and helped them build the case at the event. Once the case was up a running, Shannon came over to our booth and shook my dad’s hand. He said, “That was such a great case to build in, nice work!” Well my dad felt very gratified knowing another manufacture was giving him praise for his design. We also brought with us our new prototype, the X2… then this is where it all turned ugly…
PDXLAN 25. Thermaltake announces the Core case line, the X1, X2 and X9 cases. The cases feature a modular design, horizontal mobo cube style, windows on both sides, drop-in radiator mounts, stackable, mITX, mATX and ATX form factors and a ventilation pattern identical to all of our cases. These features ALL are part of the Mercury line which we brought with us just 1 year ago, and what he built in 6 months prior. Funny it takes companies about a year to release new product, right? We knew about the cases before the event, but we kept our cool. My dad even went as far to speak to Shannon and ask him how he was doing. I kept pretty quiet. Shannon told my dad, “The new line was doing very well and hoped that one day he would make cases as good as ours. They were not there yet, but it was his main objective while working there.”
Computex 2015… Shannon was thrilled to announce “My new babies have arrived!” on Facebook. I was fortunate enough to see this late at night so I had plenty to keep me from sleeping well (actually not at all really, yay for coffee!). I also received several notices from people at the event telling me that Thermaltake had ripped us off yet again.
All of these events happened, and I did not make up anything, not a thing. Simply put, Shannon and Thermaltake, you disgust me. We are all for innovation, and welcome new case concepts from other manufactures. We have said this publicly and I’m saying it again. There have been some AMAZGING things to happen to the enthusiast market, and it’s better for everyone. Copying people’s existing concepts and calling them your own stifles innovation and hurts the industry with dull already done designs. We are a small family owned and operated business who make their products in the USA with pride. Anyone can steal designs and have them made overseas for much much less. So do something with our own creativity and concepts or do nothing at all.
Shannon if you read this and I hope you do. The only reason I became friends with you on Facebook was because my dad genuinely believed you were a good guy and that I should give you a chance. That’s why you may have noticed I sent you a friend request after you sent me one. I had deleted your request, and after speaking to my dad I sent you one, and voila, we became “friends”. I feel a bit “high school” adding this part, but I wanted you to know that.
For all who have read this, thank you for taking the time. We have worked tirelessly on our designs and can’t just sit back while people rip us off. I am asking everyone to share this post. Please, it needs to be done or businesses like Thermaltake will continue to taint the industry with rip-off products. To all of you who noticed the stolen concepts and took the time to tell us, thank you your support means the world to us.
CaseLabs Vice President”
Pretty strong words there and Kevin himself held nothing back in what seemed to get quite personal with another Thermaltake employee; of course all this has to be taken in context to how the Caselabs team are feeling at the moment as after all, the Caselabs company is a family run business and can’t really compete with the powerhouse Thermaltake on a global level.
In reponse to this, Shannon Robb from Thermaltake issued this response via his personal Facebook page…
“Hi Guys, sorry I didnt respond to this sooner but in TW it is just now like 7AM…
First off anyone who has seen these cases, they are in no way as far as fitment and functionality a copy of anything. The scalability and modularity are simply awesome.
as far as exterior appearance, we chose a design that ideally fit everything we wanted to accomplish with the design and similar with the panel grille designs. Its only partially about appearance and more about what will provide best airflow without sacrificing panel integrity and rigidity.
Lastly, do remember that as a chassis manufacturer we all make cases and if you remember we all used to have beige boxes, its not about copying anything its about what makes the best fit for the design you are trying to accomplish.
We are pushing the limits on many things as far as performance and feature sets and im glad you think our chassis is so awesome, because if you really like it that much you will like the price even better!
stay tuned to see more cool stuff from computex.”
A slightly different type of response which defends Thermaltakes development of the Premium range, but is he right? That isn’t for me to decide as being a reviewer, it is all about remaining impartial regardless of what is happening around the world, but both parties to make valid points.
So who is right here? Did Thermaltake blatantly copy the Caselabs design or has Thermaltake got a right to manufacturer any type of case they want regardless of design? It is worth baring in mind Caselab cases although highly sought after and premium, come with a price tag to match and Thermaltake will be retailing their latest range at around 1/3 of the price of the Caselab counterpart. What do you think?
Let us know in the poll below!
On a lighter note, also check out our Thermal Paste comparison which can be found here – http://www.play3r.net/reviews/cooling/thermal-paste-comparison-2015-best-thermal-paste/