#3. Escape Patents by Going Really Far Away
In many ways, it's no surprise that Hollywood is the unquestioned worldwide epicenter of modern-day filmmaking. With quick access to all types of physical terrain, an abundance of space to build studios and great weather year-round, it serves as a perfect shooting location. There is, however, an additional, less publicized reason why directors began to flock there in the early 20th century: they were all running from the law.
Crazy, loose-cannon law who didn't do things by the book.
At the time, Thomas Edison (a noted asshole) and his New Jersey-based company had a stranglehold on the entire cinema industry. With patents on the entire spectrum of available filmmaking equipment, he made it next to impossible for small filmmakers to function.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways to be an asshole."
Unfortunately for Edison, a small band of filmmakers just decided not to comply with the patents. Oh, and not only that: To make it a pain in the ass for Edison to catch them, they decided to move just about geographically as far in the U.S. as they could get from New Jersey: Hollywood, California.
As we all know, "Hollywood" is German for "HAHAHA, SUCK IT, EDISON!"
Seeing as this was the early 1900s and there was no way to get on an airliner, watch a shitty Adam Sandler movie or two and arrive across the country in six hours, Edison couldn't exactly just head over and confiscate their equipment. The distance was just too far for Edison and his infamous team of thugs to travel without sacrificing a huge amount of time and expense.
Unable to physically enforce his intellectual property, Edison decided to sue the filmmakers. Unfortunately for him, California's legal system wasn't exactly keen on enforcing those patents. Despite Edison attempting to sue Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Pictures, a whopping 289 times, Laemmle walked away unscathed.
Via LA Times
He was buried while still extending his middle finger.
Edison was eventually slapped with antitrust lawsuits a few years later and watched his company fall into shambles as the bandits in Hollywood who defied him went on to create companies such as Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and MGM.
They've grown slightly fonder of intellectual property rights since.
#2. Cash in on Consumers' Hatred of Your Product
Let's say your name is Bob Smith, and one day you find out that the company you work for has registered the domain name BobSmithSucks.com. We're guessing you'd be more than a little hurt. But companies do this all the time.
Here's why. Open up another tab in your browser and try to go to Verizonsucks.com. You'll find nothing there. Odd, considering a company the size of Verizon has more than a few angry customers. Verizonblows, same thing. If you do a domain lookup, you will find that both of those insulting domains are owned by ... Verizon.
When Verizon was formed in the late '90s as a result of a merger between Bell Atlantic and GTE and the company came up with the name, the first step was of course to register Verizon.com. But they also thought to grab Verizonsucks.com and others like it. Back in 2000, 2600 Magazine noticed this and, out of curiosity, registered the domain "VerizonReallySucks.com." They immediately got a letter from Verizon's attorney's insisting that they turn over the domain, arguing that since it contained the company's name, it was a trademark violation.
It turned out Verizon didn't have a legal leg to stand on, but registration of critical domains has now become standard operating procedure ... to keep you from getting them. Any common domain that could host consumer complaints about a company is grabbed by that company before the angry customers can.
When WikiLeaks was threatening to publicize internal documents from Bank of America, the company bought hundreds of domains for all of the company brass. That's why CEO Brian Moynihan now works for a company that owns BrianMoynihanSucks.com (and BrianMoynihanBlows.com, etc.).
"No one at work likes me."
But that just squelches some criticism. If you want to be really smart about it, you make it so that you can actually profit from it. For instance, you've seen ads around the Internet for acai berries, the latest weight loss supplement. They usually have this lady's face on them:
You probably think it's a scam, and if so, the first step is to go to Google and search for "acai berry scam." You'll find that one of the first results is in fact an MSNBC news story pointing out that there is no magical berry that will replace diet and exercise. But that news story is sandwiched by links that are in fact sites that sell acai berries ... all with headlines clearly intended to trap people looking to call bullshit on the product.
You'll find that any kind of negative search for a weight loss program or supplement will give you the same. You've heard ads everywhere for the P90X workout program. If you Google the phrase "P90X doesn't work," the first page of results is full of sites selling P90X, while filling their text with that negative phrase in order to soak up skeptical Google searches.
In fact, there are companies that, for a fee, will bury criticism of your company by pushing negative websites to the third or fourth page of search results. There is a term for the practice: reverse SEO.
Of course, capitalizing on consumer hatred extends beyond the online world, and examples tend to be hilarious. Have you ever seen a hipster wearing this shirt?
Yeah! Fuck you, George Lucas, for ruining the original trilogy with your tampering! Oh, one thing: That shirt was sold in the Lucasfilm store, and George gets a cut every time you buy one. Here he is wearing one on the set of Indiana Jones IV:
Likewise, if you remember the late '80s, you remember famous NFL linebacker and asshole Brian Bosworth. After being drafted by the Seahawks in 1987, he didn't waste any time drawing up a storm of controversy before his first ever NFL game against the Denver Broncos. "The Boz" spent the week before the game trash-talking and hinting that he was going to injure local golden boy John Elway. The result was that Bosworth was greeted by a stadium full of irate fans verbally abusing the rookie for three straight hours and wearing T-shirts bearing anti-Bosworth slogans.
Who sold those anti-Boz shirts? You can guess: it was Brian Bosworth's own clothing company.
That's right, Broncos fans. You were outmaneuvered by a man who collects head injuries like Pogs.
#1. Find Something Your Rival Needs and Buy It All
Not that these tactics are always done by the big corporations in the name of squeezing out competition. Sometimes it's the little guy who figures out how to game the system.
For instance, what kind of soap do you have next to your bathroom sink? Statistically, it's probably not a bar of soap, but one of those little pumps of liquid. It's neater and more convenient, and soap companies sell billions of dollars' worth of them every year now.
You know, the ones we all have in our bathrooms.
But back in the 1970s, liquid hand soap was sold by one guy: Robert Taylor, and his small company Minnetonka. It was his invention, and he knew he was on to something big. Test audiences loved the product and, despite barely having enough resources to do so, Minnetonka decided to go all in and make a push to take the product nationwide.
There was only one problem: Nothing he was selling could be patented. The concept of liquid soap wasn't new, and simple pumps had been around since the dawn of civilization. As a result, Taylor knew several huge soap manufacturers were ready to happily steal his idea the very moment it looked like it could succeed on a large scale. Armed with superior resources and the ability to quickly R&D an imitation product, the industry giants were ready to crush tiny Minnetonka.
"Yeah, if you could hurry this up, we have other dreams to destroy."
Taylor, however, was ready for this. Before any other company had the chance, Taylor decided to go shopping one day and bought a few plastic pumps. And by a few we mean FUCKING ALL OF THEM. There were only two companies nationwide manufacturing those little pumps, and Taylor ponied up $12 million -- more than the total net worth of his company at the time -- and ordered 100 million of them, effectively buying every single pump these two companies would be able to manufacture for the next year or two. We don't know exactly how Taylor broke the news to his competitors, but we imagine him standing atop a hundred-foot pile of plastic pumps in the shape of a middle finger while yelling, "I'M KING OF THE PUMPS, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!"
"Tell you what -- you fuckers can have this one on the house."
Anyway, without the part required to dispense the soap, there was nothing the major companies could do but sit and watch Taylor slowly own the entire market. His product would become known as SoftSoap, and a bunch of you reading this have a bottle of it next to at least one of your sinks. Two years after his little stunt, Colgate-Palmolive would be forced to just buy SoftSoap from Taylor ... for $61 million.
For more on insane business tactics, check out 6 Companies That Make Money Solving Problems (They Made Up) and 6 Secret Monopolies You Didn't Know Run the World.