Williams-Sonoma, a retail outlet that sells kitchenware and furnishings, has sued Amazon over a chair that is “strikingly similar” to the company’s West Elm brand, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Amazon’s version of the chair, which can no longer be found on the site, is an orb chair that is round with a hole in the back. The chair that Williams-Sonoma alleges is a copy has similar features and retails for $299.
“It is implausible Amazon could have conceived of a product line with nearly identical product designs which feature product names containing the very same non-descriptive terms WSI uses in connection with these products, other than by intentionally undertaking to copy WSI’s West Elm product line,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 14 in San Francisco federal court. Amazon declined to comment to Bloomberg. The lawsuit is another piece in the continuing struggle between the eCommerce giant and the brands it serves, and of whether the company acts as a helper or competitor.
Apple, for its part, has accused Amazon in the past of allowing counterfeit products to be sold on the site and not doing enough to stop the practice.
Williams-Sonoma said Amazon “unfairly and deceptively engaged in a widespread campaign of copying.” The company said three of the copied chairs made up $8 million in revenue in the first 10 months of 2018.
Amazon has at least 120 brands, 100 of which debuted in the past year, according to TJI Research. Some brands include the Amazon name and others don’t.
Spencer Millerberg, a senior vice president at Edge by Ascential and a previous Amazon employee, told Bloomberg that more lawsuits are sure to emerge. “They are going into a ton of different categories, and there’s no doubt we’ll see more lawsuits like this,” he said. “The thing is, Amazon just doesn’t care. Vendor managers look at how big the legal risk is versus the sales they expect from the product.”