Real vs Replica: Herman Miller reaches settlement with Matt Blatt

Herman Miller has settled its latest court dispute with Australian company Matt Blatt, over claims the replica furniture producer was passing off imitation Eames furniture designs as originals.

American furniture brand Herman Miller announced it was taking legal action against Matt Blatt in September, claiming the company’s website was misleading consumers as to the authenticity of certain items by selling counterfeit furniture – specifically, copies of certain Charles and Ray Eames pieces – that were not clearly identified as replicas. Herman Miller, a company whose history dates back to 1905, has been producing Eames designs since the 1940s and owns the rights to produce and sell Eames originals.

Herman Miller elected to take the dispute over the Eames trademark to the Federal Court of Australia, and the matter has now been settled. The terms of the settlement remain confidential, however the Matt Blatt website currently displays the following message: “Matt Blatt’s replica products are not manufactured or approved by, or affiliated with, the original designers, manufacturers or distributors including Herman Miller, Charles or Ray Eames, Knoll, Fritz Hansen, Flos, Studio Italia, Giogali, Artemide Spa, Tolix or Xavier Pauchard.” The Eames imitation designs are identified as replicas across the website, though they still retain the ‘Eames’ in their product name.

This latest legal battle is not the first time Herman Miller has gone public with the battle against replica furniture – Matt Blatt gave a public and legally binding undertaking to Herman Miller in 2006 to clearly identify the imitation Eames designs it sells as replicas.

Jeremy Hocking, Vice President of Herman Miller Asia Pacific, said: “Some peddlers of copy products mislead the public into thinking they are buying the iconic Eames products designed for Herman Miller. It has once again taken legal action by us to ensure that a distributor does not misuse Herman Miller’s trademarks and design credentials to mislead the public.”

Hocking continued: “Nevertheless we are satisfied with the radical changes to Matt Blatt’s website that were implemented immediately after our legal proceedings commenced. I’m pleased to say that Tebi Pty Limited (trading as Matt Blatt) have also given a further public and legally binding undertaking… that gives further protection to Herman Miller’s rights. So we’re happy and we think all manufacturers of original and authentic designs will also be happy that we’ve been able to win this small but significant battle for the ethics of authentic design.”

Herman Miller is one of over 40 members of the Authentic Design Alliance, an organisation established in 2010 to support the integrity of original, authentic design and protect the intellectual property rights of designers and licensed manufacturers.

www.authenticdesign.com.au
www.hermanmiller.com.au

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