Sebel Furniture Limited v Acoustic & Felts Pty Limited [2009] FCA 6

For just over 60 years, the applicant (Sebel) has carried on business in Australia.  For most of that time, that business has included the design, manufacture and supply of chairs moulded from plastic materials.  Sebel’s products are also sold overseas.  It exports to over 70 countries worldwide. Sebel’s product range is extensive and varied.  It produces seating and furniture for restaurants, cafes, stadia, auditoriums, conference venues, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, aged care facilities and government departments. Sebel is the largest distributor of furniture to educational institutions in Australia.  It has developed a specific range of products designed to meet the needs of schools, TAFE colleges and universities.  It supplies both government schools and private schools.  It has supply contracts with several State governments in Australia. One of the key products supplied by Sebel in its range of furniture specifically designed for the education sector is a sidechair known as the Postura chair.  Sebel has supplied Postura chairs since 1996. The respondent trades under the business name “Reed Furniture” (Reed Furniture).  It also has other businesses.  It acquired the business of Reed Furniture in early January 2006.  Reed Furniture has also been in business in Australia for many years.  It has traditionally supplied tubular steel chairs and other tubular steel furniture.  It has supplied these items to schools, universities, local councils, government departments and churches.  Tubular steel chairs are very different in construction, shape and appearance from one piece moulded polypropylene chairs of which the Postura chair is a well-known example. Reed Furniture has recently commenced to import into Australia and to supply and distribute here a moulded plastic chair known as the Titan chair. The Titan chair is intended to be supplied to the same educational market which, for many years, has been supplied with Sebel’s Postura chairs. Thus, Reed Furniture intends to compete directly with Sebel in the market for the supply of chairs and other furniture to the education sector in Australia. Sebel is the Registered Owner of Trade Mark No 1054076 in respect of a shape (Sebel’s trade mark).  Sebel’s trade mark is registered in Class 20 in respect of sidechairs moulded from plastics materials.  Sidechairs are chairs without arms.  The trade mark is subject to the following endorsement, namely... Read more about this case: This case has been cited in the following lawsuits:
  1. HARRY WOOD FOR ELSIE LYNNE NEILSON v ANDREW MARK LEE-JOE [2013] FCCA 1665
  2. Wang v Anying Group Pty Ltd [2009] FCA 1500
  3. Safari Automotive Technology Pty Ltd v Ironman 4x4 Pty Ltd [2009] FCA 1330
  4. Davis v Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (No 1) [2009] FCA 562; (2009) FLC null
  5. Sebel Furniture Limited v Acoustic & Felts Pty Limited (No 3) [2009] FCA 322
  6. Sebel Furniture Limited v Acoustic & Felts Pty Limited (No 2) [2009] FCA 291; 255 ALR 119
  7. Pakula Tackle Australia Pty Ltd v Zacatak Lures Australia Pty Limited [2009] FCA 71


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