In 2006, starchitect Norman Foster designed a slim aluminum chair called the "20-06 Stacking Chair" for the American furniture maker Emeco. Created as a tribute to the company's iconic 1944 "Navy Chair," Foster's attractive, lightweight chair hit the market at $625. A few years later, Ikea came out with their stackable "Melltorp" dining chairs, which retail for $25. As you can see in the above photo, the chairs have a nearly identical form. Now Emeco has initiated legal action against the Swedish flatpack furniture giant, with a filing that claims infringement of copyright and design rights. Emeco's chairman told Dezeen: "We have started an action against Ikea in Germany for damages, and to stop making the chair."
Ikea refused to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings, but released a statement saying: "Ikea never deliberately copies products sold by other companies or designers. Design is of greatest importance for Ikea and is an integral part of the Ikea vision and business idea."
Obviously, the chairs look very similar, but Emeco's lawyers will have to prove malicious intent, which is tricky. Seems like the prosecution did a bit of forum-shopping though: why else would a Pennsylvania-based company file suit against a Swedish company for copying the design of a British architect in Germany? A hearing is scheduled for September. Judge for yourself whether they have a case or not:
Norman Foster's 20-06 chair for Emeco:
Ola Wihlborg's Melltorp dining chair for Ikea:
· Ikea Faces Legal Action over Alleged Copyright Infringement [Dezeen]
· All Ikea coverage [Curbed National]
· All Lawsuits posts [Curbed National]