Braille Monitor                                                                 December 2006


Maxi-Aids Seeks to Intimidate Competitors by Claiming That Somebody Stole Intellectual Property from It

Marc Maurer

For more than a decade the Maxi-Aids Corporation, along with the family of companies that have been created by Maxi-Aids's principal, Elliot Zaretsky, has been featured in the Monitor as an entity that would shave the truth, steal names and intellectual material from others, and lie about its businesses and practices to capture market share (See "Was It Swiss or Hong Kong: The Story of Maxi-Aids," December 1994; "Summary and Brief Excerpts from the Trial," March 1998; "On Ethics and Maxi-Aids," July 1998; "Department of Veterans Affairs Debars Maxi-Aids," December 1999; "Maxi-Aids Exposed Again: ILA Files Contempt-of-Court Motion," December 2001; "Elliot Zaretsky Visits the National Center for the Blind," January/February 2002; "Maxi-Aids Exposed Again Part II: Able-Vision Established to Circumvent the VA's Proposed Debarment," January/February 2002; "Perkins School for the Blind Sues Maxi-Aids," July 2002; "Maxi-Aids Held in Contempt of Court," May 2005; and "Maxi-Aids Held in Contempt of Court," July 2005). Now we have a document from Maxi-Aids which purports to be a report that somebody else has taken intellectual property from Maxi-Aids. Given the long history of prevarication of Elliot Zaretsky, one must look upon this latest document with a substantial degree of skepticism. Nevertheless, the Maxi-Aids missive is clearly a threat--one which apparently seeks to intimidate others into dropping lines of business that compete with Maxi-Aids. Here is exactly what Elliot Zaretsky says, punctuation and usage errors and all:

Farmingdale, New York

September 2006

To whom it may concern,

It has come to the attention of our Legal Department, that a company that was contracted by Maxi-Aids, has used manufacturing molds which were designed and paid for by Maxi-Aids for the expressed purpose of the production of Reizen products. These products have been re-produced without the permission or knowledge of Maxi-Aids and were sold on the open market to distributors and competitors. As this was done without the knowledge or permission of Maxi-Aids, it is a violation of our intellectual and material property rights.

Please see the included list of items as well as the pictures showing the products in question. If you have purchased these items from any reseller besides Maxi-Aids you must contact us immediately so we can let you know if the reseller is an authorized distributor of these products. If you have purchased products from an unauthorized reseller we will instruct you on the proper handling of this merchandise so as to avoid litigation.

Maxi-Aids will pursue all legal avenues available in order to defend our material and intellectual property and will seek damages from anyone including distributors who are either knowingly or unknowingly in possession of merchandise that was obtained without our consent.

Very truly yours,
Elliot Zaretsky

This letter of Elliot Zaretsky's was apparently distributed far and wide. It contains considerable irony along with allegations which seem to be false. Attached to the letter is a sheet containing pictures of products associated with certain legends. For example, one of the pictures is of a liquid level indicator. Tim Cranmer, a member of the National Federation of the Blind, who died some years ago, invented this liquid level indicator. He named it the "Say When." Tim had this product manufactured in Kentucky. The National Federation of the Blind was one of the principal distributors of Tim's Say Whens.

At one point in the history of the Say When, Maxi-Aids pirated the product. Later, when an administrative mix-up caused the copyright on the Say When name to lapse, Maxi-Aids appropriated this as well despite the prior use of the name. Both the name and the product have been taken from their inventor by Maxi-Aids. Maxi-Aids is now alleging that this is its own intellectual property.

Another of the pictures on the Maxi-Aids sheet is a set of dominoes. Maxi-Aids proclaims that it owns the intellectual property "Tactile Double Six Dominoes." My memory tells me that Maxi-Aids came into being in 1986. I was playing tactile six dot dominoes at the school for the blind in 1961. Sets of such dominoes could be purchased during the sixties and seventies. We in the National Federation of the Blind sell raised dot dominoes today. Inasmuch as we do not do business with Maxi-Aids, we got them from another supplier. Because we don't believe we can trust Maxi-Aids, we have adopted a policy not to do business with the company. We think Maxi-Aids's claim of intellectual ownership of this idea is complete idiocy or worse.

During the past dozen years or so, we have reported that Maxi-Aids has engaged in many forms of sharp practice. We do not believe that it is fair for us to be subject to intimidation, and we do not believe that the field of blindness is well served by the behavior of Maxi-Aids. Now Maxi-Aids is accusing others of stealing from it. The only comment that seems to fit is that Maxi-Aids should know. It takes one to know one.