Mike Singletary

Mike Singletary

Meet Mike Singletary of Huntington Beach CA. His consulting company, Aero Quality Plus, is selling their version of the AS9100 revision D standard, called “EZ9100,” for a whopping $999. If you buy it at the same time as their template kit, it will cost you $2,499. If you really hate having money in your pocket, you can throw it all away it here.

[UPDATE: within hours of this article, the entire content of the AQP website was replaced with a notice saying “down for maintenance.” But here’s a screenshot of the site as it appeared before the takedown.]

The problem is that EZ9100 appears to include the full text of both ISO 9001 and AS9100, in a pretty outrageous bit of trademark and copyright violation. The AQP website includes a free “preview” of the document, and here’s a screenshot, showing how it’s merely the AS9100 revision D standard reprinted with some consulting notes tossed in.

The preview goes on and on like this, showing that each section includes the full text of ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100 rev D. Worse, SAE trademarked the name “AS9100” for this latest release, so you technically can’t sell anything with that word in it, without their permission, much less a competing product. It’s probably unenforceable, but it does create some additional legal hurdles.

AQP copies AS9100 to such an extent that it claims EX9100 is at “rev. D” which is “superseding EZ9100C” — the exact language (and even font) that is used in the official AS9100 standard — except it doesn’t appear that “EZ9100C” ever existed to be superseded in the first place.

The AQP website goes out of its way to hide any actual people who work there, and doesn’t include a phone number. A sales email was sent by one “Marivee Amone” who Google reports is a topless Hawaiian dancer or something. But Whois records for the website pointed to Singletary, and I called and spoke to him personally. He confirmed that, yes, AQP is his company and that the EZ9100 product is completely legal. He insists he has a copyright attorney that blessed the entire thing, who I’m assuming looks a lot like this guy.

His defenses? Stick with me, because they’re interesting. First, he said, the EZ9100 standard isn’t for sale, even though it is, so therefore it’s not copyright infringement because he’s not selling it. Except that he is. He couldn’t resolve the fact that the website is literally selling the standard right now, even as he insisted it’s not, and finally blamed it on his website designer. But, yes, there’s a big “Add to Cart” button and I tested it, without making the final sale, but it appears to be working just fine.

Singletary apparently doesn’t realize that sending out spam emails, like this one from the “sales@ez9100.com” email address, also constitutes “selling.” It always gives one pause to think that ISO business consultants don’t know the basics, like what “sell” means.

Click to embiggen.

So to recap, he’s selling something that’s not for sale, even though he’s selling it. Got it?

Next, Singletary claimed it’s not infringement because no one bought it yet anyway. When I said that it was unlikely anyone would ever buy it, since the actual legal copy is 14% of the cost, Singletary said, “Exactly, so what are you worried about?” He seemed to think that if he priced something exorbitantly, that it’s not copyright infringement because no one will buy it. Of course, that’s not quite how the law works, but whatever.

Finally, Singletary insisted that the EZ9100 standard does not include the actual text of ISO 9001 or AS9100, even though the preview totally does. When asked about the preview, he said, “it’s a pre-release.” I pressed to understand just what the hell that meant, and he insisted that the “pre-release” doesn’t represent that actual thing you’re buying for $999. When I asked why the website clearly calls it a “Document Preview” he kept repeating “it’s a pre-release.” The words “pre-release” don’t appear anywhere.

Which makes things worse. It means that the thing you see when you click “Document Preview” is not what you actually get when you give him $999, and that is going to piss off a lot of people. Assuming what he says is even true.

So either Singletary did rip off the entire text of ISO 9001 and AS9100, and is selling it at remarkably jacked-up prices using a business model apparently designed by the Marquis de Sade, or he’s selling something by using a “preview” that isn’t remotely close to what the actual product is.

To top it off — as if this story needed any more skulduggery — the name “EZ9100” is already in use by a company called EZ Trench, meaning that now Singletary has an entirely different battle on his hands, with an entirely different company. I called EZ Trench, but they seemed remarkably unperturbed about it, so perhaps he’s safe on that front.

Meanwhile, if you want a legal copy of AS9100 rev D, all you have to do is pony up $135 — which is already an outrageous price point — by clicking here.

 

    About Christopher Paris

    Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 25 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015, which can be purchased here.