Posts tagged with "Intellectual Property":

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Emeco Sinks Restoration Hardware’s Battleship: Navy Chair Dispute Settled

During World War II, the U.S. Government asked Wilton Carlyle Dinges, founder of the Hanover, PA-based Electrical Machine and Equipment Company (now Emeco) to design a lightweight chair rugged enough to "withstand water, salt air and sailors." That design became known as the Navy Chair (or the Model 1006 for purists) and today has become a staple of industrial-chic design. Now you can add "copycats" to that list after a legal dispute, involving a nearly-identical chair from Restoration Hardware called the "Naval Chair," has been settled. Emeco sued Restoration Hardware last October alleging infringement of Emeco's trademark of the Navy Chair. "The irreparable harm caused by Restoration Hardware, an established company, to Emeco’s reputation and significant goodwill is massive, incomparable to that caused by a typical, small-time counterfeiter," the company said at the time in a statement. Now, Unbeige reports that the dispute "has been settled for an undisclosed sum." According to a statement released by Emeco Monday, "As part of that settlement, Restoration Hardware has agreed to permanently cease selling the chairs that Emeco accused of infringement, and its existing inventory of such chairs will be recycled." The larger significance of this settlement is its implications to protecting the intellectual property of designers. Design copyright protection has been a contentious issue between designers, manufacturers, and counterfeiters—even reaching recently to the scale of architecture—and will continue to play out in coming years.
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Architecture, the Final Frontier for Pirates?

    Aye, those swashbucklin' pirates are at it again, matey! This time, though, they're not after gold, DVDs, or designer purses, but the identities of architects. The Guardian's Jonathan Glancey relates that Chinese firms posing as British officers of Aedas and Broadway Maylan have been pursuing bids with false information. He points out the dangers that such a development might entail for the profession and wonders if starchitects like Zaha Hadid could be the next victims. The troubling news broke recently in the British magazine Building, revealing the first two cases of archi-piracy. From the Guardian:
[A]t least two prominent British practices have been hit by a wave of identity theft at the hands of Chinese impostors, which have cloned their websites and submitted bids for building projects under their names... "They took information from our website and bid for projects. They had been submitting bids mainly for government projects before we found out."
It seems like such a ruse would be difficult to carry out for long, but the point could be just to make a quick buck and get out. In the cases cited above, one Chinese identity thief was successfully prosecuted in China but the other disappeared without a trace. Glancey posits, "But will the web pirates begin to raid British practices with a higher design profile? If Aedas and Broadway Maylan, why not Foster and Partners and Zaha Hadid?"  Aye, it's enough to make one tremble with schadenfreude, ain't it?[ Via Guardian, photo via John Picken / flickr. ]