American furniture brand Emeco has accepted an out-of-court settlement from IKEA after accusing the Swedish furniture giant of copying its Emeco 20-06 stacking aluminum chair, designed by British architect Norman Foster. The agreement makes clear that Emeco owns the intellectual property rights to the 20-06 chair, which was designed by Foster in 2006.
Emeco had claimed that IKEA's stacking Melltorp dining chair was "very, very similar" to its own product. IKEA disagreed with the claim.
Norman Foster's 20-06 Chair (on the left) is handmade from 80 per cent recycled aluminum and retails for around $900 in North America. IKEA's stacking Melltorp Chair (right) features a powder-coated steel frame and a polypropylene seat and backrest and retails for $15. It is still for sale on the IKEA Canada website.
The settlement is the latest victory for Emeco, which has resorted to legal action to protect its designs on several occasions in the past.
In 2013 it reached a settlement with the US furniture giant Restoration Hardware, which it had accused of copying its iconic aluminum Navy Chair. Restoration Hardware agreed to cease selling the product.
Emeco has been making their aluminum Navy Chairs using a unique 77 step process since 1944. Given the 150 year warranty, chairs produced for battle in WWII are still under warranty today. Now that's shelf life! As a plus the chairs are beautiful, simple, clean and made of aluminum - three times the strength of steel.
Emeco's CEO Gregg Buchbinder expressed his frustration at firms that copied their products, "It's something that, as a manufacturer that puts a lot of time and effort into the development and research and everything else, is a very hard thing to swallow."
In a related story Airbnb replaced a set of eight aluminum chairs at its new San Francisco headquarters after Emeco pointed out that they were fake Navy Chairs.
The Emeco Navy Chair is one of the most widely copied designs of the last century and Emeco has been active in the courts to protect its intellectual property.
Emeco’s experience with fighting replicas and reproductions of its designs is a small part of the ongoing problem of fakes in the marketplace.
Recently the delivery of 100 replicas of Danish designer Hans J. Wegner’s Round Chair were seized and destroyed by Norwegian customs.
The Round Chair, often simply referred to as The Chair, is "absolutely the most important work of Hans J Wegner". Its design features a curved wooden back and arms made of a single piece of solid wood.
In the UK, manufacturing and selling copies of mass-produced designs won't be illegal until after 2020, when a new copyright protection law will be introduced to give industrially manufactured items the same protection as works of art, books or music.
The change to the law followed a wide debate on copyright for furniture designs after the British prime minister's wife purchased a reproduction of the Castiglioni brothers' iconic 1962 Arco Floor Lamp in 2011.
The Flos Arco Floor Lamp is another design icon that has been endlessly copied by replica manufacturers.
The copying of original design eats away at the very creativity of the design industry. GRShop and Gabriel Ross only sell original and authentic furnishings and objects. We strongly urge you not to be seduced by the lower prices of fakes and replicas - you really won't be happy long term with your purchase. Support creativity and help protect the history of design and the future of innovation.
Customers in the USA can purchase many of GRShop's products at ModernPlanet.com and receive the same great customer service and free shipping.