Emeco Industries, the maker of the Navy Chair, is suing the home-decor chain Restoration Hardware over its "Naval Chair"—a design that bears more in common with the Emeco original than its given name.
Restoration Hardware, which, as the Los Angeles Times reports, is preparing for an initial public stock offering, retails its Naval Chair for $129. Its inspiration, the Navy Chair, first commissioned by the U.S. Navy in World War II, sells at Emeco between $450 and $1,300, depending on the finish. According to a release, Emeco brought its trademark infringement suit against the chain in federal court in San Francisco.
"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 CEO Gregg Buchbinder said in a statement.
The announcement by Restoration Hardware last month that it had filed plans for a $150 million public stock offering followed fast on the heels of the news that chairman and co-CEO Gary Friedman had stepped down. Friedman's resignation was prompted by an inquiry into his relationship with a woman employed by Restoration Hardware; the lawsuit, which Artinfo's Janelle Zara describes as "lazy plagiarism," is unlikely to help the company's public-relations problems.
But it remains to be seen whether even a seeming slam-dunk copyright violation case can do anything to dampen Restoration Hardware's explosive growth. The Wall Street Journalruns the numbers: "Restoration Hardware has posted double-digit revenue growth for 10 consecutive quarters as the company has also reduced its store base. For the 12 months that ended on July 28, Restoration Hardware's earnings soared to $33.2 million, while revenue jumped 22% to $1.05 billion."