Herman Miller have settled litigation against replica furniture manufacturer Matt Blatt in relation to copies of its Eames products.
November 7th, 2011
In 2006 Matt Blatt gave undertakings to Herman Miller that they would not use Herman Miller’s ’Eames’ trademark in reference to its copies to Eames products, unless it was made clear that the items in question were copies.
“However, we noticed earlier this year that there were a number of instances on the Matt Blatt website where [Matt Blatt] used the ’Eames’ trademark without doing so,” explains Jeremy Hocking, Vice President of Herman Miller Asia Pacific.
The key trigger sparking the litigation was the use on the Matt Blatt website of demonstration videos that misleadingly described Matt Blatt’s Eames copies as Eames products, or as being designed by Charles and Ray Eames.
“There was no indication in those videos that the products were copies, and not authentic Eames products,” Hocking says.
The Court Order issued to Matt Blatt stipulates that the company will not use the ’Eames’ trademark in relation to Eames copies unless it is made clear that the products are copies.
“We consider it significant that this undertaking has been noted by the Court and is now a matter of public record,” says Hocking, describing the result as a “small but significant battle for the ethics of authentic design.”
Eames Lounge and Ottoman
“I do feel that the law in many countries does not sufficiently protect the investment and risk taken by design leaders and innovators like Herman Miller,” says Hocking. “It should not be possible to import inferior quality copies of iconic designs from Chinese factories which have no ISN or EN certification into Australia. It should not be possible for greedy distributors to then attempt to mislead the public into thinking that these copies are the real thing.”
Through the Authentic Design Alliance, Herman Miller and a number of other companies and designers are working to help inform the Australian Government about how intellectual property legislation might be changed to better favour designers and manufacturers of ’authentic’ design.
Eames Moulded Plywood Chairs
Eames Moulded Plastic Chairs
“In my view it should not be legitimate to be able to use the word ’replica’ around a trademark like Eames – or Coca Cola for that matter – to build a business which exploits this brand association,” says Hocking.
“And I say the word ’exploits’ deliberately. Let’s not be under any illusion here that using the trademark is vital to the replica industry. Without it they would be unable to get off the ground. They need to link their copies to the great brands in order to attract attention. It’s a parasitical industry and it’s time to fight back.”
Eames Lounge and Ottoman
Herman Miller Australia
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