BLOGS: Furniture Law Blog

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 8:57 PM

Mark Sampson to Present Webinar on New FMLA Rules

Mark Sampson, a noted labor and employment attorney with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, will be the guest speaker at Home Furnishings Business' March 10 Webinar. The the Department of Labor has issued an entirely new set of regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which became effective Jan. 16. These regulations substantially revise the process employers must follow when employees request FMLA leave. In fact, a whole new set of postings, forms, and policies are now required.

The regulations also address such topics as:
  • Eligibility for FMLA leave;
  • The new categories of military family leave;
  • Changes to the definition of serious health condition;
  • An employer's obligations in responding to requests for leave;
  • The new process for certifying an employee's need for leave; and
  • Direct contact with an employee's health care provider.
These are changes with which every employer should be familiar. The March 10 Webinar will discuss these changes and provide practical guidelines for complying with the new regulations.

More information can be found by clicking here ....

UPDATE: Universal v. Collezione

A copy of Judge Osteen, Jr.'s order regarding damages may be found here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 1:14 PM

Universal Furniture Awarded $11.2 Million Judgment Against Collezione Europa

The United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina has awarded Universal Furniture an $11.2 million judgment against Collezione Europa. The ruling caps a two-year copyright infringement battle that culminated in Collezione filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

More can be found at Furniture Today [LINK].

Tuesday, February 17, 2009, 1:05 PM

Furniture Store Owner Faces Up To 50 Years In Prison

Charles Thomas Ingram, III, the former owner of High Point Furniture in Gulfport, Mississippi, has pleaded guilty to five counts of false pretense after bilking customers of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors say Ingram opened a store that appeared legitimate but was found to be merely taking advantage of people trying to recover from hurricane damage. Ingram sold, but never delivered, furniture to a number of customers. Ingram faces up to 50 years in prison and more than $116,000 in restitution. Sentencting is set for May 5, 2009.

No Sleep In Brooklyn

On February 11, 2009 SINT, LLC filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) (09-0575) against Sleepy's Furniture & Mattress Corp., I Am Sleepy Too Corp., New Linen N Things II Corp., and John Does 1-10 alleging that defendants are using the mark "SLEEPY'S" in a manner likely to cause confusion with SINT's trademarks. SINT is the IP holding company for Sleepy's, a well-known mattress and bedding store with locations in 11 states. SINT claims ownership of SLEEPY'S and various other marks using the term SLEEPY'S in connection with mattresses and other bedding items. Defendants apparently operate a mattress and bedding store just down the block from a Sleepy's store where defendants have prominently used the name "Sleepy's." Along with its complaint, SINT sought a temporary restraining order. On February 13, 2009, the court held a hearing on SINT's motion for a TRO. Defendants failed to appear and thus the court granted SINT's motion for a TRO.

Monday, February 2, 2009, 9:31 PM

Wynwood Successfully Settles Infringement Against Endura

Wynwood Furniture, a wholly owned division of DMI Furniture, Inc., and Flexsteel Industries, Inc., announced today it has successfully settled its copyright and trade dress infringement lawsuit against Endura, Inc. Wynwood brought the lawsuit against Endura based upon the infringement of Wynwood's long running and successful Cordoba, Antiquo Blanco, and Granada home furnishings collections. With regard to the settlement, Joseph G. Hill, President and COO of Wynwood, stated, “We do not hesitate to resort to legal action to protect our designs, but at the same time we are glad to have resolved this matter amicably.”

“We are pleased that the intellectual property laws reward companies like Wynwood who take the time and effort to produce new and original designs," said Hill. Wynwood works hard to provide their retailers exclusive designs not available from others in the marketplace. Hill continued, "We will continue to take aggressive action where necessary to protect ourselves and our dealers.”

As part of the settlement, Endura and other defendants recently added to the lawsuit who are believed to be officers of Endura include Unang Wijaya, Soenandar Santosa Gani, and Dan Mocias, agreed to immediately stop production of the Endura Seville and Barcelona collections that Wynwood asserted as infringing. Endura also agreed to make a monetary payment to Wynwood. In exchange, Wynwood agreed to a dismissal of the lawsuit although expressly reserved rights to bring legal action against any future designs it believes infringes upon its valuable rights. Wynwood declined further comment on the settlement.

NOTE: Womble Carlyle represented Wynwood in this case.

Lifestyle Enterprises Sues Former President and CEO

Lifestyle Enterprises, Inc. filed an action on January 27, 2009 against Gregory Noe, Lifestyle's former President and CEO. The complaint, filed in Superior Court, Guilford County, N.C. (High Point), alleges that Noe's leaving of Lifestyle in December 2008 and joining of Samuel Lawrence Furniture thereafter results in Noe breaching his fiduciary duties and actual and threatened inevitable trade secret disclosure. In particular, Lifestyle alleges that Noe's detailed knowledge of its overseas sources, namely Vietnam and Malaysia, constitutes trade secrets that Noe will inevitably disclose and use while at Samuel Lawrence. Lifestyle is the parent company to High Point's Forbidden City, LLC and Shanghai Leather, LLC.

Internet Furniture Retailer Sentenced To 14 Years For Fraud

Wilmington, North Carolina's Star News reports that a U.S. District Judge has sentenced Henry Rayford Privette, 55, of Johns Island, S.C. to 14 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution for defrauding customers out of millions of dollars through an Internet-based furniture business in Calabash, N.C.

Privette was convicted on wire fraud charges based on taking orders over the Internet and requiring deposits but failing to deliver the furniture or provide a refund. Privette operated under the websites www.carolinafurniture.com and www.millerburnsfurniture.com.

The complete Star New report can be read here.
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