I'm not a person who stirs the pot for no good reason, but when people I know and products I love are involved I feel the story should be shared.
The Pen Type-A was the darling of Kickstarter in the summer of 2011. The pen design and highly engineered body and sleeve caught the eye of over 4000 backers, myself included. I was fortunate enough to talk with Che-Wei Wang right when the product launched, and continued to talk with him and his CW&T partner Taylor Levy throughout the campaign as I tried to help source Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills during my time at JetPens.
While the project was a success from a pure numbers standpoint, CW&T ran into huge difficulties in getting the products manufactured. Che-Wei and Taylor were very upfront every step of the way, openly talking about all of the challenges they faced during production. Their Kickstarter updates page reads like a novel (and is highly recommended reading for those into manufacturing). There were ups, downs, and huge delays but in the end all the pens met CW&T's high standards and shipped out.
Unfortunately, the story did not end there.
Allen Arseneau was brought into the fold by CW&T to help sort out the manufacturing issues they were having in China. He and his wife Diana Hudak were part of the inner circle at CW&T, even appearing in photos in CW&T's shop helping to clean and organize the Pen Type-A pens prior to shipping.
As the Kickstarter project was coming to a close and nearly all of the Pen Type-A pens had shipped an interesting thing happened. An eerily similar pen, called the Torr Classic, appeared on the shopping site Fab.com. The man behind the pen? Allen Arseneau.
At that point, things got crazy. NOTCOT has done an awesome job of sorting out the details and connecting the dots so please read their article. Allen is falling back on the fact that the original Pen Type-A design came from an old medical device design and he is doing nothing wrong by manufacturing a similar pen. But when you are part of the inner circle of a product team, have the design plans, and then come out with the same product on your own under a different name? That's just plain wrong.
While I will not say Allen Arseneau is a thief, what he has done is about as unethical as you can get. And playing it off like you are a sweet little angel, well that is just priceless. Posting fake comments on FPN just adds to the hilarity.
The reason I am bringing this up now is that one of my Twitter friends pointed out that they saw Torr Pens for sale at this weekend's Philadelphia Pen Show. Now that pen show season is in full swing I wanted to call attention to this product and ask you a favor: Please do not buy a Torr Pen and support unethical businessmen like Allen Arseneau.