High-end stuff retailer Williams-Sonoma yesterday sued Back Bay-based Wayfair for patent infringement, charging the Back Bay-based company has copied many of its home-furnishing designs to try to foist them on an unsuspecting public as "exclusive to Wayfair."
"This is wrong, and it must stop," Williams-Sonoma declared in its suit, filed in US District Court in Boston. William-Sonoma, which also sells cookware and expensive snacks, is seeking an end to the alleged copying of its West Elm-branded goods as well as enough damages to make Wayfair think twice before doing it again.
Williams-Sonoma said it has design patents on numerous chairs, lamps and other home furnishings and that Wayfair has repeatedly ignored demands to knock it off with the knock offs:
This is far from the first time Wayfair has misappropriated West Elm’s work. West Elm has been forced to send numerous cease and desist letters over the years to police Wayfair’s blatant copying of West Elm’s designs and efforts to trade of its goodwill. Despite those letters putting Wayfair on express notice of WSI’s rights, Wayfair’s wrongful conduct continues.
In some cases, William-Sonoma said, Wayfair had the nerve to say its knockoffs were "West Elm inspired." But there's inspiration and then there's outright appropriation:
Its conduct goes well beyond drawing “inspiration” from the West Elm brand, but rather, coupled with its use of West Elm patented designs, Wayfair is competing unfairly and deliberately attempting to free-ride on the goodwill of West Elm.
Complete complaint (1.7M PDF).