BLOGS: Furniture Law Blog

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Monday, July 12, 2010, 10:12 AM

Pan-American Products Sues Rooms to Go

On July 2, 2010, Pan-American Product & Holdings, LLC (Guilford Co., NC) sued Rooms to Go and several related entities for copyright infringement, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion and misappropriation, unfair competition and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The case is was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Pan-American alleges rights in certain aspects of the "Retro Collection," including (1) a collection of panels with alternating grains in order to create a sense of depth and visual tension; and (2) tapered appliques. The designer of the Retro Collection met with representatives of RTG and it was agreed that RTG would sell the Retro Collection and use Pan-American as a broker in acquiring the furniture from manufacturers. As part of this agreement, samples of the Retro Collection were provided to RTG. After further negotiations, the deal stalled.

Several years later, RTG released the "Chaplin Collection." Pan-American alleges that the Chaplin Collection infringes its rights in the Retro Collection and RTG did not use Pan-American as the broker. RTG's Chaplin Collection is shown below:

Ex-Cell Sues Carnation Home Fashions

On July 2, 2010, Ex-Cell Home Fashions, Inc. sued Carnation Home Fashions in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina for false designation of origin, trade dress infringement, and design patent infringement. For its claims, Ex-Cell alleges that Carnation is infringing its trade dress in hang tags used in connection with shower curtains and liners. Ex-Cell identifies its trade dress as the "distinctive appearance of the total image and overall appearance of the EXCELL Shower Curtain package, including the size, shape, color combination, and texture, and serves to identify such products as emanating from Plaintiff." Ex-Cell further alleges that Carnation is selling counterfeit shower curtains with the EXCELL mark and confusingly similar hang tags. Ex-Cell also alleges infringement of U.S. Design Patent No. D611,330 for an ornamental shower curtain hook. A figure from the '330 patent is below:

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