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Restoration Hardware sued, suspected of stealing chair designs

October 02, 2012|By Shan Li
  • Emeco is accusing Restoration Hardware of stealing its chair designs.
Emeco is accusing Restoration Hardware of stealing its chair designs. (Emeco )

Home decor chain Restoration Hardware, which recently filed plans for an initial public stock offering, is being sued for allegedly stealing designs for chairs and bar stools.

Emeco Industries, a furniture maker from Hanover, Pa., filed suit in federal court in San Francisco accusing Restoration Hardware of trademark infringement and "selling a series of cheap knockoffs" based on Emeco designs, according to the suit. Former co-chief executive Gary Friedman is also named in the suit.

Emeco specifically pointed to Restoration Hardware's  "Naval Chair" line as a "blatant" knockoff of its own "Navy Chair" collection. As evidence, Emeco in its filing includes side-by-side photos of extremely similar chairs offered by both retailers.

One such chair -- composed of aluminum with a sculptured seat -- was originally commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II, according to the lawsuit. It retails for $450 at Emeco and $129 at Restoration Hardware.

"For us, stealing our Navy Chair design is like stealing the Nike Swoosh or the Mercedes Benz logo, and then exploiting our brand and reputation to produce an inferior product," Emeco Chief Executive Gregg Buchbinder said in a statement.

Emeco is seeking damages and a permanent injunction to stop Restoration Hardware from selling the relevant designs. Restoration Hardware did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit is yet another episode in the recent saga of Restoration Hardware, which saw Friedman resign in August amid an internal inquiry into his relationship with a 26-year-old female employee.

The company filed plans last month for an IPO of up to $150 million in common stock. 

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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