Gregg Buchbinder
CEO, Emeco
Be Original Americas founding member

Be Original Americas brings together companies in the furnishings-design industry to educate manufacturers, sellers, and customers about the importance of authentic original design. As a founding member of Be Original Americas, Emeco, along with colleagues in the furnishings industry who value authenticity, has contributed to the extensive educational programs of lectures, workshops and roundtables. The goal of these activities is to establish a set of industry standards that encourages consumers, the architecture/design community, producers, dealers, and media partners to fully support creativity and authenticity and invest in the future of design, incentivize innovation, and give back to the industry and the people it serves.

For Emeco, there is value in a beautiful design, intelligent engineering, and robust manufacturing of authentic Emeco chairs. The shape of the chair is only part of the “original design.” Chair design includes much more. Emeco aluminum chairs are produced with a unique 77-step process that results in an indestructible chair, guaranteed for 150 years. The design includes the material formulation and complex process used in the manufacturing. 

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Be Original Americas Manifesto
“We believe in investing in original design and protecting the designer and the company.”

Emeco aluminum chairs are made of 80% recycled aluminum, and the Alfi and Broom chairs are made from reclaimed industrial waste—wood fiber and polypropylene. Emeco’s innovative and industry-changing 111 Navy Chair took four years to develop. This included work by scientists and chemists to formulate the material, engineering, and design of the tooling and processes, and a substantial investment with joint-venture partner Coca-Cola to make a strong and sustainable chair from rPET – recycled plastic bottles. To date,
more than 26 million bottles have been kept out of landfills by manufacturing of the 111 Navy Chair.

To protect its brand and its designs, Emeco heavily invests in aggressive legal action against those who infringe upon its intellectual property. As in other industries, some sellers of these knock-offs download and use the images of authentic Emeco chairs. This includes disclosing detail on Emeco’s manufacturing process, trading on its reputation and innovation to sell counterfeit chairs, and fooling the consumer in order to sell fakes. Counterfeits are typically made with inferior materials and in the fastest and cheapest way possible to provide attractive profit margins. Although counterfeit chairs often look similar to genuine ones, they lack the strength and durability of an authentic Emeco chair. 

The Emeco knock-off team regularly searches websites such as Houzz, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba and affiliates for listings of counterfeit chairs. Sellers of knock-offs commonly infringe on Emeco registered trademarked designs, trademarked 2-dimensional images, registered trademarks for the  brand’s name, and products’ names. Sites such as Houzz, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba  offer a process for submitting intellectual property infringement claims. When notified, the webhosting company that lists the infringing chairs almost always takes action and removes the infringing chairs from its website. But these removals follow the expenditure of dedicated time, money, and resource efforts of the Emeco team.

Emeco’s legal team also sends cease-and-desist letters to counterfeiters when necessary, putting them on official notice that they are in violation of U.S. trademark law and will face legal action. If the infringer ignores this warning, legal staff will file a lawsuit.

Be Original Americas began working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2016, educating agents on the difference between the trademarked originals and counterfeits.

Emeco was one of the first Be Originals Americas members to work with U.S. Customs officials at port-of-entry locations. Our advice on spotting a fake is simple and direct: “If an Emeco-designed chair comes into a U.S. port or across the border into the U.S. it’s a fake. All Emeco chairs are made in America.” To date, U.S. Customs has seized several container loads of infringing Emeco chairs, stopping them from being imported into the United States.

Thanks to industry group Be Original Americas, Emeco has met and had the opportunity to work collaboratively with the heads of the most-respected companies in the furnishings industry. Emeco and the other members of Be Original Americas are working to contribute experience and knowledge in the fight against counterfeits in the design industry and to help preserve the future of design.