Mason Monitoring faces challenge over use of symbol, name
KINGS PARK, N.Y.--Mason Monitoring Inc., a Long Island-based company that has drawn attention for offering $2 burglar and fire alarm accounts, is being challenged over the use of a Masonic symbol and the word "Mason" in its marketing.
In a written complaint to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota, Richard W. Bateman of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York alleges that the company is violating the state's General Business Law.
"Mason Monitoring Inc. does not have the permission of the [Grand Lodge] to use the Masonic symbols and/or the word 'Mason' in any newspaper or other publication published in this state, or in any letter, writing, circular, paper, pamphlet or other written or printed notice, matter or device," says the complaint, which is dated April 19. "As such, we request your office to bring the fact of this violation to the attention of the responsible party or parties and to seek appropriate remedy thereof."
The letter does not detail what that remedy might be. Bateman, grand pursuivant and assistant grand secretary for the Grand Lodge, referred inquiries about the complaint to Martin A. Danoff, an attorney at the New York firm of Kurzman, Karelsen & Frank. Danoff did not respond to repeated calls from Security Systems News.
Attempts to reach Ellen Morrell, who is listed by the Better Business Bureau as the owner of Mason Monitoring, also were unsuccessful. But a man who answered the phone at Mason's central station and would not identify himself said the company could legally use the name and symbol atop its website.
"I'm a 33rd degree Mason, so I have every right to use it," he said. "The state has not approached us about it and they won't. ... The particular [symbol] that I used is not registered, it's not a registered trademark. The top of ours has the U.N. [emblem] and the symbols are different. ... What we're doing is 100 percent within the proper scope."
Calls to the District Attorney's Office to determine if Spota has taken action on the complaint were not returned. A database search on the office's website failed to return any records that listed Mason Monitoring.
SSN reported in February 2010 that the company, which is now in its fourth year of operation, was offering digital burglar and fire alarm monitoring for $2, effectively underselling the competition.
"It really doesn't cost much to monitor digital accounts," Mike Cannatella, Mason's central station manager, told SSN in 2010. "GSM and other stuff costs a little extra, but digital monitoring doesn't really cost that much. We're not greedy."
Cannatella said this week that Mason was still offering $2 monitoring. He would not disclose how many accounts the company has, but said "the marketing and the strategy of better service for a lower price is still what we stand by, and it's been going wonderfully for us for the past few years."
When contacted by SSN in 2010, Cannatella said Mason had just received its application to join the Central Station Alarm Association and that it planned to be certified by Underwriters Laboratories in early 2011. He said this week that the company is still not UL-listed and it is not a member of the CSAA.