Update: Century Furniture sues Crate & Barrel parent over trademark
Century Furniture is claiming trademark infringement
over the use of Century's name in this CB2 bedroom suite.

Editor's Note: Since posting this article last week, Richard Reese, CFO of Century Furniture parent company CV Industries, provided Woodworking Network with an explanation for why the lawsuit was initiated. Read on.

HICKORY, NC -- Century Furniture Industries filed a lawsuit May 16 over what the company calls trademark infringement by CB2, a subsidiary of Euromarket Designs and sister unit of Crate and Barrel that first opened in Chicago in 2000.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, claims that CB2 used the Century name on a bedroom group featured on CB2's website and in its catalog. The furniture, 50s-inspired contemporary walnut veneered pieces, includes dressers, a wardrobe and a nightstand made in Vietnam. Pieces in the line include a walnut low dresser featuring veneer over composite with chrome painted hairpin legs, priced at $499, and a bedside table for $199.

In the suit, Century claims they did not make the furniture and the use of the Century name violates their trademark. Century Furniture Industries is one of the largest privately-owned manufacturers of high-end residential furniture. The third-generation family owned company was founded in 1947 in Hickory, NC, by Harley Ferguson Shuford Sr. The company has a broad product line of wood and upholstered furniture.

According to Richard L. Reese, chief financial officer for Century parent company CV Industries, Century found the use of its name in April around the time of the furniture market. Reese reported that the company tried to settle the dispute out of court but when the matter was not resolved Century went to court. "The Century brand is our identity -- our face to the world. It is the embodiment of the public's perception of our company. Our name is as important as our quality of product and exceptional service. Our founder, Harley F. Shuford, Sr., chose the name Century and for nearly 65 years, we have done the work of building a reputation for excellence. The name now carries that association in the world of furniture. We also believe the name Century represents our company's strength and endurance."

Reese told the Woodworking Network that the company is very protective of the Century brand name. "It has never been more important than today, when it can be communicated to every part of the world in milliseconds We will not willingly permit others to trade off our reputation -- intentionally or otherwise -- nor will we allow the good connotations of the Century name to be diminished or diluted in any way." 

The lawsuit against Euromarket Designs claims the company is engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices, unfair competition and trademark infringement. In addition to demanding that the defendant stops using the Century name, the suit asks for any profits earned by the sale of furniture bearing the company name along with court costs and other damages associated with the case.

Century Furniture has a history of aggressively protecting its trademark and has filed similar lawsuits against other companies, among them Costco Wholesale Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores in May, 2010. Both suits were settled out of court in September of 2010.

Reese said the company will continue to take legal action to defend the Century brand. "We take these actions to not only protect Century, but also our authorized dealers and design partners."
Posted by Jo-Ann Kaiser

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