09 April 2007

Psssst. That Solengo Brochure

Lawyers keep working at hiding a certain brochure from you.

Let's talk about why.

Last year, a certain high-flying futures trader, Brian Hunter, lost $6 billion of other people's money (some of it pensioner's money) speculating on the future price of natural gas. Ah, well. That's how the capitalist cookie crumbles, right? Well ... right.

I'm not aware that any elderly pensioners have been thrown out of their garret apartments due to Mr. Hunter's loses. He worked for a hedge fund called Amaranth -- a Greek term for an unfading flower -- and in general the institutions that invested in Amaranth didn't generally fade out as a result, i.e. Amaranth was only a small portion of their portfolios, so no great harm was done.

One would think, though, that after losing $6 billion, Mr. Hunter's career as an asset manager would be somewhat cramped. He'd be well advised to try his hand at something else. I understand that the retailers of previously owned automobiles are always looking for new talent.

Instead, Hunter has created a new fund, which he calls Solengo. He's named this one for a wine.

Within the financial press, the story that Hunter was looking for new suc ... investors ... was naturally considered fascinating, so there was something of a competition to get a hold of a copy of the marketing brochure he's been using.

This proved to be not too difficult to do, because Solengo had been sending out its brochure as an unsecured Adobe Acrobat document through cyberspace. I can't say how widely, but widely enough so that a couple of alert bloggers got it and posted it.

That's when copyright lawyers entered the picture. Throughout Holy Week, a drama played itself out in which lawyers for the Solengo-retained firm of Kobre & Kim repeatedly sought to ... well, entomb this information. And somebody or other -- some invisible hand? -- kept rolling the rock to the side.

What Kobre (is the name pronounced like that of the snake?) is trying to do is fundamentally both wrong and futile. The copies of the brochure keep spreading. Here is one of them.

The angelfire blogger, who calls himself Publius,has explained his action here.

I tip my hat to Greg Newton, who's been covering developments on this story intensely.

General rule? Transparency, good. Political fixes to produce silence and preserve ignorance, bad.


Dante said...

Very amusing piece only I'm concerned
you aren't looking at his views.
He doesn't want random people looking
through his brochure which is well
within his rights and you simply
can't post it without full permission
from him :P (According to the hits
you get on your page due to posting
his brochure and whatnot I can't see
how it would hurt him unless of
course you mock it (yay). ^.^
As stated, that's how the cookie


Christopher said...


That's a great user name. "Midway this way of life we're bound upon/ I rose to find myself in a dark wood/ Where the right road was wholly lost and gone...."

Anyway, I agree that all businesses have a right to try to keep some proprietary information secret. But once something does get out, despite their efforts, I submit they should simply accept the fact that its out. Deal with it. And do so without bringing in lawyers and trying to get the horse back into the barn by force.

I'm reminded, in a sense, of the Pentagon Papers case. The result of the litigation that followed was two-fold. On the one hand, Daniel Ellsberg went to prison. On the other hand, the New York Times was allowed to print the information he had criminally leaked to them.

The government, in other words, could punish the guy who left the barn door open, but it had to accept the fact that the horses, the data, were now out there.

I simply apply the same dichotomy to private sector proprietary stuff.

Dante said...


Thanks for my name comments and
what everyone gives reference to,
but honestly I don't know why my
parents gave me that name. I've been
hating it for a number of years but
*shrugs* it's sticky. heh.
The Pentagon Papers is a much
different matter since it involves
our government on a whole whereas
this POS scam artist's brochure
only concerns those in the field.
Comparing the two is like comparing
a apple to a apple tree.
He was trying to keep the papers
from being known to certain people
by the gods in hell, that's his
rights. In other words, let's say
you got hold of someones manuscript
and not only made copies of it but
also kept it in view of the world-
wide viewers. Though he was giving
out his manuscript to certain
persons in confidence by you (or
in this case, another brave man)
taking what wasn't given he now
feels naked and chooses to hide
his shame. Since by asking politely
it's not possible he seeks the help
of others. :P

Don't get me wrong, I truly wish
there would be a day when all
information was shared with mutual
respect and dignity but heh, that's
just not going to happen anytime


Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.