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Canadian firm banned from selling Herman Miller copies in U.S.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

A Canadian firm will discontinue selling knock-offs of Herman Miller’s famous mid-century modern designs by Charles and Ray Eames as part of a settlement reached with the Zeeland office furniture maker this week.
The Toronoto-based Nuevo Americana Inc. is banned from selling products that infringe on Herman Miller’s Eames patents in the U.S. or on websites that can be accessed in the country, under the three-page agreement. Judge Paul Maloney has yet to sign the agreement in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids that would dismiss a lawsuit filed by Herman Miller against Nuevo in November.
Nuevo agreed to stop using images and likeness of Eames trademarked products, most notably the company’s Eames Aluminium Group or Eames brand.
Herman Miller sought an injunction to stop the company from making and selling the lookalikes, have it destroy remaining stock and turn over any profits made on the venture.
“Nuevo sells its knock-off furniture items, directly or indirectly, to retailers, who sell the knock-off furniture to consumers, sometimes in connection with the Eames trademark,” according to the suit.
Nuevo's lookalike pieces are sold on the website nuevoliving.com under the monikers Sonoma, Churchill, Vesper and Soprano, the suit alleged.
A Herman Miller Eames chair and ottoman sell for about $4,499, according to several vendor websites, more than twice the amount of Nuevo's knock off furniture.
Herman Miller will continue to aggressively pursue parties that infringe on the Zeeland company’s intellectual property, trademark, and trade dress protections, said Ron Reeves, company spokesman.
“It’s an important issue,” said Reeves. “I think it’s an important issue for anyone involved in making authentic quality designs. It’s an important issue for the design community.”
He described the settlement, which was reached in less than three months, as another win for Herman Miller.
“We also think it’s a win for the design community,” Reeves said.

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