Furniture maker sues to protect trademark


The Aeron chair. Courtesy Herman Miller

A West Michigan furniture manufacturer is taking legal action against a retailer to protect its trademark against unauthorized use.

Herman Miller filed an enforcement action on Aug. 19 in the Northern District of Illinois against Madison Seating for unauthorized use of its trademarks and improper marketing and sales of Herman Miller products, including the iconic Aeron chair.

Herman Miller’s motion is to enforce a previous consent judgment between the company and Madison Seating’s manager, Levi Cohen.

Cohen previously owned and has restarted his business under the name of Madison Seating. The consent decree explicitly prohibits Cohen from engaging in Madison Seating’s current infringing activities and imposes specific penalties for violating the judgment.

Herman Miller said that while companies — and individuals — are able to sell used Herman Miller furniture, they must clearly indicate the condition of the product.

Authorized Herman Miller dealers and retailers are required to be truthful and transparent in their advertisements to avoid confusion among consumers, the company said in a statement.

“Misleading business practices are a scourge of the industry,” said Brian Walker, Herman Miller CEO. “They negatively impact the entire category by confusing and frustrating customers and consumers, and damaging the brands and reputations of companies like Herman Miller and others that are committed to creating and selling authentic, innovative, high-quality products that last for generations.”

Herman Miller has a robust enforcement program in place to protect against deceptive businesses, Walker said, including those that misrepresent the condition of products being sold, that confuse and mislead the consuming public, or that produce and sell counterfeit products.

The company said it would leverage all methods of intellectual property protection to maintain the integrity of the brand, and encourages all companies that also produce and sell original, authentic products to do so as well.

“Herman Miller vigorously supports our strong global brand to ensure that the products our consumers purchase exceed their expectations for quality, design and performance,” Walker said.

Madison Seating officials said they are preparing a response to the lawsuit. 

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