Williams Sonoma Nastygrams Blogger Who Helps People Build Their Own Furniture

from the furniture-pirates? dept

Brad Hubbard writes "I regularly read a blog called "Knock Off Wood" -- a site where a woman teaches readers how to build various designer-looking pieces of furniture at home for a lot less. It's the best kind of "maker" site - someone who is passionate about crafting, freely sharing their passion with a community of readers and everyone learns a little something. So when Williams Sonoma, Inc (owner of Pottery Barn and West Elm among others) sent them a legal nastygram, the owner of the site was entertained more than anything."

The company is alleging both trademark and copyright violations -- though it's difficult to see either one holding up. Unfortunately the woman who runs the site decided it was easier to just cave in, but that's unfortunate. Doing so encourages more bullying. The trademark claims are ridiculous. They say that by mentioning specific product names, she's implying that "the website is somehow affiliated" with WSI. But, of course, any moron in a hurry knows that's not true. The whole site clearly states it's about making knock-off furniture. No one is going to go to this site and think it's actually affiliated with WSI, or any of the other brand name furniture companies.

The copyright claim is equally questionable. At issue is that she's using the copyrighted images of WSI's furniture as part of the blog posts about how to make that type of furniture. But that seems like it should be a clear cut case of fair use. If you run through the four factors of fair use, it's hard to see how this is infringement:
  1. the purpose and character of your use

    The question here is if the use is somehow transformative or being used to build something new. But one of the questions usually asked in judging this factor is: "Was value added to the original by creating new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings?" It seems like an entire blog post around how to build that kind of furniture certainly qualifies. This one is in favor of fair use.

  2. the nature of the copyrighted work

    Well, they're photographs, but they were used in catalogs and such, not for sale. So that would seem to, again, lend to a fair use ruling. The original purpose of the photos was that they were to be seen widely.

  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken

    Indeed, it sounds like the "entire" photo was used, so you might be able to weigh this factor against fair use, but not necessarily. As we've seen in multiple lawsuits, even if you're using the entirety of the work, it can be considered fair use if the purpose is so completely different from the original -- which, in this case, is definitely true.

  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

    Now, some might argue that the use here might harm the market for WSI furniture since it's teaching people how to build their own, but that shouldn't apply here. The test is for the potential market of the copyrighted work. That is, this factor should not take into account the impact on the market for the furniture itself, but just on the market for the photographs. And it's difficult to see any harm done here at all.
So going through all of that, it's difficult to see how this isn't a clear cut fair use case. Unfortunately, as mentioned, the woman didn't want to fight the legal battle and agreed to just take down the images and mentions of WSI. However, she is amused that a housewife in Alaska has brought out the legal attack dogs of a giant retailer.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Flakey, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 7:08pm

    Thanx

    I would like to thank Brad Hubbard for the website link mentioned in this article. I love to do woodwork as a hobby and while there are websites out there to check on, this one seems right up my alley.

    Funny where you find things that you are really interested in on the net.

     

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  2.  
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    ScaredOfTheMan, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Streisand Effect to the Max

    Not only did I bookmark her page, but I became a fan of the facebook page too!

    Thanks WS for pointing me to this valuable woodworking resource. I will be sure to tell all my friends (some who actually buy your overpriced products) about it.

    Yippeee!!!

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 7:42pm

    Thanks for the heads-up, Williams Sonoma

    Just canceled our trip to Pottery Barn, thanks to this. May very well look into doing it ourselves instead.

     

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    Philip (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    Neat site!

    I've personally never even heard of her, but looking over the site, I like! I found a few pieces I'm very much interested in building and she does an awesome job laying things out. I'm surely keeping this site around.

    Once again, a site that people never heard of, until the lawyers got in the way. I guess I should be thanking the lawyers ... I would have never known about her if it wasn't for them.

     

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  5.  
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    cc, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 7:53pm

    i wish i knew this years ago

    Wow I can just make those furniture on my own?

     

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  6.  
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    Freedom, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:34pm

    I'll donate to the legal fund...

    If she wants to setup a legal defense fund - I'll donate!

    Freedom

     

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  7.  
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    whoa, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 8:54pm

    legal fund

    I would donate also! :) I absolutely love her site!!!

     

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  8.  
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    Knock-Off Wood, Ana White (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:05pm

    Thanks for the Support

    Hi Brad, I'm the carpenter/blogger that William Sonoma doesn't like anymore.

    Thank you for this article. I am a carpenter, not a lawyer, living a hundred miles from a stoplight, in the middle of nowhere Alaska. I don't know a single lawyer. I haven't made a single penny off Knock-Off Wood and can't justify spending my family's limited income on fighting a gigantic corporation. Additionally, I feel my time is best spent drawing up plans, not fighting corporations. I also am a mom, and could not justify the amount of time needed to fight, when my daughter is needing attention badly as it is.

    But you make me rethink. You make me want to fight, because it's what is right for the greater good. By having access to their photos, I can teach people more effectively.

    Thank you again, Blessings, Ana

     

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    modern furniture, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 9:32pm

    re trademarks

    A lot of funny things happened over the last few years with trademarks and furniture companies. Alphaville and Knoll are in a legal dispute about designs from 80 years ago that knoll trademarked just a few years ago. Of course a larger company can grind out a blog owner or a smaller company with just a few letters even of the legal grounds is shaky, but that's for the courts to decide. But realistically if she is using their names on her blog, she's going to be in for some pain and they can keep sending letters and filing suit and the lady is going to have to pay to defend it whether she wins or not.

    Legal defense fund? It's going to get expensive even if she is right. The letters back and forth with a good IP and trademark lawyer is going to run about $300 a letter then they are still going to file suit on you. Settling out is going to take at least a few weeks of back and forth, so I guess, and I'm not a laywer, $5,000 out of your own pocket and then you roll over for them. If not, there's a possiblitiy that they just file suit and grind away for years racking up 50-100k in legal bills and THEN you settle. Over a blog? I think we all know the answer to what she should do...

     

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  10.  
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    BAlbrecht (profile), Mar 12th, 2010 @ 10:28pm

    Re: re trademarks

    ...which is why we need legislation that allows for the punitive punishment for those filing frivolous lawsuits. Any lawyer who files a suit such as this without a clear understanding of IP laws would be potentially exposed to large penalties for their actions, thus deterring the suit to begin with. In addition, it would also create a market for legal defenses paid on contingency.

     

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  11.  
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    Travis, Mar 12th, 2010 @ 11:20pm

    Law and the Law

    hearing about this crap, and then about some guy who slashes someone across the face with a knife and gets 3 months prison.
    Disfiguring the poor man for life.

    Makes me want to get sick, our legal system is out of control.
    It barely works.

     

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  12.  
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    Dave, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 2:35am

    Free furniture

    It's pretty obvious that the company just does not want people building similar items to theirs for free. They want you to buy THEIR (probably) over-priced product. Most commercial furniture seems to built of rubbish anyway, as I have noticed when I have broken up a piece that has got to the end of its useful life.
    Can't the EFF get involved with frivolous stuff like this?

     

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  13.  
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    Tricia, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:12am

    Knock Off Wood

    Thank you for this article. My support is 100% with Ana. It is unfortunate that the bullying led to her giving up. I understand her decision though, and I'm sure that your support on this matter means a lot.

     

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    michaela @ the gardener's eden (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:40am

    Fair Use

    One of the things that I find amusing about this is the fact that many of the furnishings offered by Pottery Barn, and West Elm, etc. are actually very old designs or, in the case of West Elm, ripped-off from modern masters like Eames, (compare the original items from Design Within Reach to West Elm, and it's obvious). Can they say they actually conceived of the farmhouse table, (Pottery Barn)? The Oval Back Chair, (West Elm), No. Some desperate fella with 12 kids came up with the farmhouse table in maybe 1753. And how about the primitive stools in the West Elm catalogue ? Some old man conceived of that when he wanted to sit down by the fire in Africa. And really, can they say that they disallow use of the photos when sites all over the internet are using them in discussions of how to design a room? It's a weak argument. I tell you what they HAVE accomplished. I occasionally bought items from Pottery Barn and West Elm. No more. They lost my business for good, because I see Ana as a teacher, not someone profiting from stealing designs. THEY are guilty of taking credit for designs, which we all know existed long before they came up with the concept, as I have just shown here. It's pathetic and greedy corporate thinking. I am however happy that this is bringing Ana so much valuable press. :) Go Ana !

     

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    James, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    This is very sad

    Williams Sonoma you and your lawyers should be ashamed of yourselves. Yes, You.

     

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  16.  
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    Alix, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    She's not giving up

    I don't feel she's given up. Her blog is still up and running minus PB pictures/names. I can jump online and look at the pictures really quick if I need to see the original inspiration. I've followed her blog since the beginning and was worried when this all happened that her blog would be shut down. She has her priorities straight...making some minor changes to appease the big guys, but still focusing on the big picture; protecting her family & keeping the blog going to help all of us out here make beautiful furniture without the ridiculous price tag!

     

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  17.  
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    SC (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    It's not as if WSI is going to lose any market share. I would never buy anything from WSI, because it's overpriced, for something that's really very ordinary. Knock-off Wood is read by people who likely don't shop the WSI catalog anyway.

    When my hubby reads this, he's gonna want to build something.

     

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  18.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Trademark

    > The whole site clearly states it's about making knock-off furniture.
    > No one is going to go to this site and think it's actually affiliated
    > with WSI, or any of the other brand name furniture companies.

    Not to mention the easy remedy for that isn't to delete all references to WSI's products, but rather to merely put up a prominent disclaimer saying that "Despite the fact that this site references the names of WSI products, it is in no way affiliated with that company."

    WSI would have a hard to making the case that despite the name and nature of the site *and* the disclaimer, reasonable people would still be confused about the nature of the the site's relationship to WSI.

     

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  19.  
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    Jess N, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    YES!

    Love the article and I LOVE me some Ana! My husband and I spent an awesome afternoon building a table for our deck with plans from Knock-off woods. I was proud of our work, proud that I used a miter saw, and proud that we didn't get in a single argument while making it (I know! HUGE!). Her site is empowering and brings out the best in people. Look at all of the positive feed back that total strangers are giving to each other. Makes me have faith in the good of people, even after enduring rush hour in the DC metro area ;)

     

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  20.  
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    abc gum, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Re: re trademarks

    "a legal dispute about designs from 80 years ago that knoll trademarked just a few years ago."

    Trademark on a design - really ?
    What kind of design would warrant a trademark ?
    Possibly the design is of a platform with backrest supported by four legs, or maybe it is a large horizontal surface supported by four legs.

    I seriously doubt that a moron in a hurry would become confused about who made a piece of furnature simply because of its design.

     

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  21.  
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    interval, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Re: She's not giving up

    Its completely ridiculous that any large manufacturing concern would be threatened in any way by any cottage industry (or in this case a how-to site), but I kinda don't get why she didn't simply take pictures of her own work rather than copy pictures from the big concern. Am I missing something here? Am I not reading the story correctly?

     

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  22.  
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    Rayan, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Poor Ana

    I have been reading her blog for some time now as well and agree that the case would be relatively clear cut, but poor Ana. If she is anything like me, this would have been a frightening occurrence and it's just a shame. Of course the legal team of WSI is there for the purpose of bullying the little guys into stopping a problem before it does any real damage to them, but it's unfortunate that Ana had to experience this, she is doing us all such a great service in her blog.

     

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  23.  
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    CC1323, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Copyright...Copywrong

    The way I see it, Ana gave credit where credit was due in using the photos from WSI websites. She never claimed that they were her images and always said exactly who made them. It's like writing a research essay, if you cite your sources there isn't a plagerism problem.

    I also don't see why WSI is so mad, afterall "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Is it not?

     

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  24.  
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    Jess N, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: She's not giving up

    She doesn't build all of the pieces that she creates plans for. But does post pics of readers who build. :)

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Not at all sure about the wisdom of WS making an issue of this matter, but at least with respect to the use of its photos the law is clear and a fair use defense for their use would almost certainly fail. In this regard she is her own worst enemy. On her site she addresses specifically why she uses photos contained in catalogs. Her answer? Essentially, because it is cheaper to use the photos than to take and use her own.

    That said, I must say she lays out what are perhaps the most complete and helpful set of instructions for making things I have ever seen.

    Besides furniture, I wonder if she also has a killer recipie for moose stew?

     

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  26.  
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    zealeus, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Free plans

    You love to post about free, and I found the "about me" section interesting:
    "I've looked at other woodworking sites. Furniture plans are usually expensive. Why give yours away?


    Would you look at my plans if you had to first buy them?"

    She doesn't appear to have any formal business training, and realizes the opportunity cost of charging for plans- not many people will buy them. Granted, she may not be monetizing much off offering the plan for free, but eh.

     

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  27.  
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    WammerJammer (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Williams Sonoma

    Naughty, Naughty. No one likes a bully.
    I'll remember that name and will never buy their brand.
    Where are the Equal (Civil) Rights Lawyers when we need them?
    All copyright and trademark cases should be reviewed for merit by the organization we paid the money to protect us.
    The Copyright and the Trademark offices are government agencies that we pay to protect our rights, but we have to put up with unregulated private companies enforcing the laws we paid the government agencies to protect. Meanwhile politicians steal any song or visual aid they can get their hands on without the permission of the Copyright or Trademark holders because they know that the government cares less and will do nothing to protect the rights of the Copyright or Trademark owner. Thus if you don't have the money to sue or hire an agency to go after the thieves you are out of luck.
    Is there something wrong with that thinking?
    Why would I pay the government to protect me when they obviously do not?
    We need to get it through our heads that the government or the police do not and will not ever protect us. They always come in after the fact and bungle the cleanup. The sad thing is that we have to pay for this!

     

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  28.  
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    bubba, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    re

    true the pictures are owned by Pottery Barn, and they can say who gets to use them how. But why not just write her a nice letter first saying so? Something like:

    Dear Ana

    Thank you for you interest in our work. However we would ask you to please no longer use our images and remove the ones you have used so far.

    We wish you a great continuation of your work.

    With best regards,

    POTTER BARN

    How hard was that? Just a polite and friendly letter first to try and work things out before you send the lawyer scum after her and create enemies and a streisand effect. But no, they went the lawyer route and created an image as corporate storm troopers, which is really so far from the image they try so hard to create in the first place. If i was running that place, the persons responsible for this would be joining the growing ranks of the American unemployed.

     

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  29.  
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    Pjerky (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    We could fight them you know...

    We need to start standing up to greedy companies like this one. Write to congress, write to the lawyers that are sending out these legal nasty-grams. I have linked to an image of the letter from the lawyers below. There is contact information on it. I encourage anyone and everyone to write to them telling them what you think of this.

    Their legal team email address is: ppvyas@townsend.com

    Here is a scan of the letter from Williams-Sonoma:
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_LodZ9etRvTw/S5aRXlKWPaI/AAAAAAAAE5U/8pY6piJX44s/s1600-h/ pottery+barn+letter.jpg

    You can also contact the company through their website at:
    https://www.williams-sonomainc.com/contact-us/index.html

    I also found a list of management here:
    http://www.lead411.com/company_WilliamsSonomaInc_Lester_13667.html

    I couldn't find any management nor departmental email addresses otherwise I would post those. None the less, tell them what you think of their shameful business practices. If someone can find a direct email to someone at Williams-Sonoma that will listen then please post it here.

    Thanks,
    Pjerky

     

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  30.  
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    bubba, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    re

    ice nasty gram to ana. i guess thats just your crap job. but are you aware of something called the Streisand effect? because thats what your letter has achieved. you must be very proud.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

    the damage your letter caused to the company:

    http://www.google.ch/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=williams+sonoma+kno ck+off+wood&btnG=Google+Search&meta=lr%3D&aq=0&oq=

    http://knockoffwood.blogspot.c om/2010/03/we-have-arrived.html

    a work of genius really to make williams-sonoma look like corporate stormtroopers.

    enjoy the fallout, its already gone to digg.com as well, and will soon show up on any google search for williams-sonoma...


    http://techdirt.com/articles/20100310/0435558501.shtml

    and yes we no longer will shop at williams-sonoma, and have added it to our newsletter, which has a subscriber list of more than 230,000 in the US alone.

     

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  31.  
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    Moonpye (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Stay strong, Ana!

    I wouldn't buy any product from these bullies, and I would encourage everyone I know to avoid them as well! My husband and I learned an expensive lesson long ago about buying new, over-priced, slapped-together pieces of junk from furniture stores, even those that purport to carry 'quality' items. Everything we have is either homemade or refinished/re-purposed pieces that were made back when craftsmen cared about the pieces they produced. Blessings to you and keep the faith!

     

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  32.  
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    michaela @ the gardener's eden (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 11:29am

    Made in China or Made at Home

    Just to add a wrinkle... I flipped over the metal stool at my new home-built kitchen island and guess where it was manufactured? CHINA.
    Think Williams Sonoma is providing fellow Americans with jobs? Sure, minimum wage 'McJobs' at their stores... maybe.
    Buy American or build it yourself. We are in a recession!

     

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  33.  
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    Rebecca, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    Gee, I'm so confused...

    Dear Williams-Sonoma,

    I'm so confused. You see, there is this blog I read and now I have to ask:

    Is your furniture really manufactured in Alaska? Singlehandedly? By one housewife?

    The thing is, I see your photos all over their website. And despite liberal use of the words "knock off" and "inspired by" and "like", I just can't tell.

    All these years I've been drooling over your catalogs, and now I'm SO SURPRISED to find that all of that beautiful furniture was made by one woman.

    What's that? Oh, a letter. Clarifying that Ana is not actually affiliated with you or making your furniture. Really? Gee, thanks for clearing that up. Because, you know, it was so CONFUSING...

    Sarcastically yours,

    Rebecca

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: re

    This is how it should have been done, with perhaps some additional info on the proper way to reference WS trademarks.

    Of course, this is what you usually get when a letter is drafted by an attorney who views things solely through the eyes of the law and not also keeping in mind that the client's image in the eyes of the public is equally important...if not more so.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: re

    BTW, to some degree I learned this important lesson many years ago comparing correspondence prepared in the US and the same prepared in the UK. In the US phrases like "cease and desist", "you are directed", "order to show cause", etc. are commonplace. In contrast, whenever I dealt with counsel and government agencies within the UK the norm seemed to be "We invite your attention..."

    Clearly many in the UK hew to the line that one can disagree without being disagreeable.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Thanks for the link

    Please pass on my thanks to the legal department of the plaintiff for alerting me to this great site.

     

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  37.  
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    faux40 (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Two Fewer

    Dear William Sonoma,

    Your legal move against Ana and her blog has just earned you two fewer customers AND two more anti-William Sonoma evangelists with long memories!

    Good luck!

     

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  38.  
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    Tom Black, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

    Isn't this exactly like...

    those sites that publish recipes intended to mimic the taste of various restaurant foods? How is this any different. I don't see anyone getting litigious about the recipes that are posted. Why? BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE WILL NEVER GO TO THE TROUBLE OF MAKING THE FOOD OR BUILDING THE FURNITURE!!! These sites are like ads for the real products!

     

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  39.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Fair Use

    "One of the things that I find amusing about this is the fact that many of the furnishings offered by Pottery Barn, and West Elm, etc. are actually very old designs or, in the case of West Elm, ripped-off from modern masters like Eames"

    Sounds like Disney, but with tables instead of stories.

     

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  40.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: re

    "Clearly many in the UK hew to the line that one can disagree without being disagreeable."

    Writing letters would make a far better national sport than football.

     

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  41.  
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    Flakey, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:13pm

    Furniture

    Most of the manufactured furniture that is sold in the US and not part of the high end, is made of MDP or particle board. You can buy the material for about the same as the cost of a finished piece bought in the store. There is no savings for the material.

    Where the savings come in is in wear and tear. In 6 months to a year, the particle board will be coming apart and you'll be out looking for a replacement.

    If you build it yourself out of hardwood, your kids will be able to use it too. It is the quality of BIY that is where the savings are.

    Now admittedly, not everyone wants to build their own, not everyone has a place to, and not everyone has the tools. Those of us that do have all the above are the least likely to buy premade; else we would not have the tools on hand.

    Those making their own are not customers nor are we going be of any retail store dealing with furniture. There is no chance in the world that anything on that site can be mistaken for another manufacturer's product.

    Patents tend to be thrown out when they are based on prior art and I am very tempted to get EFF's special team that deals with prior art and busting patents to take a look at this case since it has become so public in nature and looks to be a very good possibility of having a or some patents revoked. Meaning that Williams Sonoma, Inc, could very well have less to worry about in the future over their IP and trademarks to concern themselves with when dealing with the public.

    I think for those that use those items to bully small sites such as this appears to be a case of, could use a little more hubris. This is one way that comes to be.

     

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  42.  
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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Thanx

    You're welcome! I'm a big fan of the site myself, and it's absolutely encouraged me to do try making furniture I would have otherwise bought.

    So hurray for the author not just shutting down, but simply tweaking her content and keeping the site up.

     

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  43.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: re trademarks

    ...which is why we need legislation that allows for the punitive punishment for those filing frivolous lawsuits.

    That is, after all, the best kind of punishment. ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Lance, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    It's rather strange that I got a PB catalog in the mail the other week. Never even shopped at the place but they had nice looking furniture. Now, due to their actions against Ana I will not be buying from them. Ever. And I will pass on the word to other people about Ana's blog and some of the great ideas on there. Thanks!

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Susan Davis, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 5:43pm

    Knockoff Furniture

    Yeah for the knockoff wood web site. I for one, love to build things, and just finished building my house. I do not have the money for the furniture sold by Pottery Barn and such. I find it amusing that WSI is threatened by her site anyway. What is the precentage of people that have the ability and the tools to build their own furniture anyway? Probably less that the precentage of people that can afford their products. The people that have the ability to build their own furniture, have probably already been doing so to some extent. Again, YEAH FOR KNOCKOFF WOOD!

     

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  46.  
    icon
    greg.fenton (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Trademark

    Hell, if I were WSI I'd likely spend time encouraging people to try to make this stuff. Give the lady resources, build the website, make sure its pictures are crisp and clean, offer 360degree rotations of furniture.

    Then, with big, clear, simple wording: and when you don't have time (or give up trying), click here to have this item ordered and delivered to your door in 1 week (or whatever).

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Thrifter, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: She's not giving up

    She often designs plans and posts them based on requests. She hasn't constructed the furniture from each of her plans (she mentioned why in one of her posts a few weeks/months ago) and therefore uses the manufacturer's pictures.

     

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  48.  
    icon
    wheels4me2 (profile), Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:46pm

    Re: Thanks for the Support

    I am not going to do any woodcrafting projects, but I totally support you to keep teaching others how make nice furniture/projects for themselves. Keep on teaching! Schooling WS is not a bad thing either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    modern furniture, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re: re trademarks

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-nysdce/case_no-1:2009cv06878/case_id-350260/

    here's just one of the cases of knoll suing for the barcelona chair, a chair made in the 20s, well beyond the design patents. they trademarked the design.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2010 @ 10:02pm

    Re: We could fight them you know...

    Write to congress

    You better put a nice, fat check in the envelope with your letter if you want them to listen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Mike Kelly, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 4:40am

    OK, its ON now.

    I will never set foot in a pottery barn again. I'll also inform every person I know about this asinine move on the part of Williams Sonoma. The more often things like thia occur, the more adamantly "anti-chain" I become. I am reaching the point where I now prefer to pay more at "Mom-and Pop" shops than to get the better deals at these increasingly arrogant and out of touch mega corps. I just buy less, and less often. I should have started this a lot sooner.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Gee what a play on words

    Little mikee m does it again....

    mikee, the purpose of a catalog is to sell a product, not to "make a photo widely viewed." So her using the photo's to sell her knock off website would be no different that HP using photos of Dell's computers to try to sell their product....

    The nature of the works is photos, WOW you got something right, but those photos are also of products that the company sells and those products are probably also patented so her knock off ideas would also be in violation of the patents as well

    Lets see number three says a purpose entirely different.. Lets see, one company takes the photos, published them in a catalog to sell a product. A half-wit too lazy to take her cell phone to a showroom floor takes said companies work and uses it to try to sell the idea of her knock offs... hmm one is selling a product the other is selling a product.... seems to defeat number 3 too

    Ahhh yeah the affect of half wits that would never have bought the product in the first place using the new works to copy what they would never have bought... But the facts are that if they wanted the original product in the first place bad enough to go copy it, then you defeat the not willing to buy it by only saying that they didn't have the money to buy it by demonstrating the WANT for the product in the first place, and if they wanted something they should save to buy it.

    So little mikee instead of calling a spade an apple, how about we call it a spade and quit twisting words.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    JustMe, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 6:52am

    Not going to buy from WS or PB

    You guys just lost a customer.

    Too bad, too, since I'm in the market for a matching ottoman to go with my PB chair and we were looking a new set of Calphalon Copper pots and pans. Hey, look at that, your lawyers just *COST* you about $1,200 from one person over the next three months. That figure doesn't consider any other purchases I may have made in your stores.

     

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  54.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    Re: We could fight them you know...

    You want a full e-mail address book for them? Its easy enough to put together. It would be funny to watch the chaos it would cause as the CEO, CFO, and guy in accounting all get non stop spam and hate mail on their blackberrys.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    JustMe, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Re: Michial Thompson

    WTF dude? Seriously, you have anger issues. Sure, we get that you don't like Mike but why do you need to call Ana a half-wit? Food for thought: it is nice to be important, but it is important to be nice.

    Also, she lives in the middle of Alaska "hundreds of miles from a stoplight", and probably many times that from a PB store. A bit hard to go to the local outlet with a camera, don't you think?

    Finally, why do you read Techdirt and respond all the time if you don't approve of the content? Could it be because you are desperate for human contact, even if it is negative? How sad for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    lowhumid (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:38am

    Re: Thanks for the Support

    Ana, I reviewed William Sonoma's complaint and I think you can easily make the required changes to avoid any further legal expensive response. If you totally avoid using the 'WSI' references and ask your registered users to send/post photos of furniture that they built from your instructions and remove those corporate photos, you should be OK. In previous jobs when I was younger, I got a lot of legal training and argued against plaintiff lawyers. Good luck and don't hesitate to ask for donations if you need to hire a lawyer. The publicity you now have should greatly help you out.

     

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  57.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    she is a hottie ....

    She should post the Williams Sonoma Nastygrams online and crowd source the legal response. It works really well on multiple levels. The first being that they see whats coming down the pipe. The second is the negative publicity that occurs. The third being the financial. In the crowd sourcing she should state "I seek no financial reward from this, I seek justice. Any lawyers who wish to participate may, and may request all legal fees be paid by the plaintiff.".

    I did something similar a couple years back with a machining and manufacturing site I ran.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: re trademarks

    Trademark was not intended to replace patent. Patents expire for a reason.

    I do not dispute whether case law illustrates the abuse of our justice system.

    The point is still valid.
    I seriously doubt that a moron in a hurry would become confused about who made a piece of furnature simply because of its design.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Re: Gee what a play on words

    The nature of the works is photos, WOW you got something right, but those photos are also of products that the company sells and those products are probably also patented so her knock off ideas would also be in violation of the patents as well

    But I'm curious.. on your blog you have pictures of various musical instruments/equipment.. I mean, did you get authorization from the manufacturer to post them, or would yours be 'fair use' and hers not?

    http://myblog.michialthompson.com/gallery/image/992.aspx

    Neither you or the lady are selling anything..

    And how would your 'Kegerator' really be much different as well? Again, another item manufactured by a corporation that a picture has been posted of. Of course, I could be wrong, perhaps you did indeed get authorization to post those pictures - but you know, if you didn't, I'm sure they could slap you with some take down notices too..

    Not try to be nasty, but at what point do you think they'll stop?

    If I wanted to 'copy-cat' the corporate stuff in a wood shop, I could simply go to the their corporate site and make copies of what *they* post on there. I don't need her blog to get pictures of their furniture.

    But - well, too bad for them, as I just closed on a house and in a few months when the government finally cuts the checks for the home incentives - I *won't* be looking at WS for anything. Not that they were really on my list, but now they will be a place to avoid, that's just nasty of them.

     

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  60.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Re: Stay strong, Ana!

    I wouldn't buy any product from these bullies, and I would encourage everyone I know to avoid them as well! My husband and I learned an expensive lesson long ago about buying new, over-priced, slapped-together pieces of junk from furniture stores, even those that purport to carry 'quality' items. Everything we have is either homemade or refinished/re-purposed pieces that were made back when craftsmen cared about the pieces they produced. Blessings to you and keep the faith!

    Indeed, and this has inspired me! I think.. instead of buying furniture, I'll buy a radial arm saw, table saw, and some other goodies and make some of my own. But I promise I won't copy-cat WS!! lol

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Leslie, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    This is a great dialogue, respectful and supportive. I've been hoarding Ana's plans for months in anticipation of my move North. I'm itching to create pieces using her help. The fact that she provides all this free of charge blows my mind. Frankly, it makes me hopeful that, in this world of "me, me, me" there is actually someone thinking of doing something for others "just because." I totally support Ana and hope that she keeps her focus on the important stuff and just let's the rest of it roll off her back.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Gee what a play on words

    Wow - Michial Thompson keepin it classy as always.

    I'm guessing that you are not interested in changing anyones opinion with your above post, because what you posted only demonstrates your lack of maturity.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    AC, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 4:55pm

    Sent the following to ppvyas@townsend.com

    Greetings.

    I understand that "through extensive marketing and sales of its famous brand of products and services over many years, [Williams Sonoma Inc.] has built up considerable fame and goodwill".

    Please understand that for my family, and several others that I know, that goodwill has been destroyed. We will not purchase any products from Pottery Barn®, pottery barn kids®, PBTeen® or west elm® catalogs or stores.

    I like to see businesses grow and thrive, I'm a supporter of small businesses becoming big, and the big businesses being successful. But I really don't like it when big businesses attempt to use their resources to stifle competition or innovation. And I find it particularly repulsive when they use copyright or trademark threats to bully small businesses or individuals.

    You might think you are protecting your business from competition, but what you really did was alienate current and future fans and customers. Good luck with that business strategy.

    In case you're not sure which of your threats I'm referring to, here's the specific letter:
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_LodZ9etRvTw/S5aRXlKWPaI/AAAAAAAAE5U/8pY6piJX44s/s1600-h/pottery+b arn+letter.jpg

    Here's an interesting commentary:
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20100310/0435558501.shtml

    Sincerely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Me, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 5:48pm

    Courts should start penalizing companies extremely heavily for threats such as these.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Cazra Dunford, Mar 14th, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    Re: Thanks for the Support

    Ana,
    you rock. WSI is lame and clearly threatened by your ability to bring great furniture and design to people to would otherwise only oggle the catalogs that end up getting tossed. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for your family, but if a battle was to be had, you would have support from your many, many fans. Myself included. Please don't stop the great work, my hubby and I have such great bonding experiences building your designs! Cazra

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 4:55am

    Re: Re: Gee what a play on words

    I guess it would depend, if I OWN the musical instruments, and I TOOK the photos, does that constitute fair use? I kinda think so since I OWN the copyright on the Phots and I OWN the instruments in the photos....

    Again, I OWN the Kegerator and I TOOK the photos

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Michial Thompson

    I think that if she is dumb enough to post pictures that she does not own the copyright to on her website while pushing plans for how to duplicate the merchandise that to me qualifies as a half-wit.

    And to the guy claiming that she lives where-ever, that does not justify anything. I live 1800 miles from Hollywood, does that give me the right to copy their movies?

    If she cannot go take the photo's herself, then she can pay someone to take them for her. Work for hire is just as efficient as doing it yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Beta, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 6:39am

    Re: Thanks for the Support

    lowhumid: "Ana, I reviewed William Sonoma's complaint and I think you can easily make the required changes to avoid any further legal expensive response. If you [remove various things] you should be OK."

    And why exactly should she take that risk? When threatened with a ruinous lawsuit why should she try to walk the brink, following legal advice from a well-wishing non-lawyer on a blog? If she follows your advice and Williams-Sonoma sues anyway, will you foot the bill? I'm on her side and I'm disgusted by WSI's bullying, but since I'm not prepared to pay her legal bills I won't advise her to stand up to them any more than she thinks is wise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    " Doing so encourages more bullying."
    The system encourages bullying. The little guys caving to legal threats from the big guys is just how the system works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    anymouse (profile), Mar 15th, 2010 @ 10:44am

    Re: Gee what a play on words

    Michial Thompson = Wierd Harold??? Is that you in there WH????

    Or did you just take over his crusade? I have to admit things were getting a little boring around here without having someone to always take the corporate side in their misguided arguments (which often fall apart when read by an intelligent individual - as opposed to the morons who are always in a hurry and seem to accept them as fact).

    Good to see you again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    OC, Mar 15th, 2010 @ 10:59am

    A moron in a hurry would see the difference.
    Williams Sonoma moves slowly.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Cowboy, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    What is this all about?

    I am embaressed to say that i read each of these comments as i waited for the rain to stop. What a load of crap by so many people....including me. Must be a hundred people here who need to get real lives, and focus on stuff that matters...not this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    icon
    Pjerky (profile), Mar 18th, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: We could fight them you know...

    That would be very amusing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Anthony, May 19th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Before you set fire to Pottery Barn.

    For all of you threatening to boycott Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn, take a minute to think about the circumstances. They did NOT tell her to stop making the furniture, providing plans, instructing followers, or anything of the nature. They didn't even imply it. All they did was send her a letter telling her to stop using their name, trademarks, and images. That's it. She doesn't own those, she has no legal right to those. This is not an issue of Fair Use, as the this blogger tries to make a case for. These are photos used ONLY in Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma catalogs to promote THEIR brand and sell THEIR product.

    Now, Michael Thompson's response wasn't eloquent, but it was pretty accurate. I would suggest Mike Masnick read up on his copyright law, and if need be discuss it with other professionals. But if a company takes a picture to sell a product, and someone else uses that picture without permission to somehow provide that product (or one similar) in a manner other than sale through the original vendor, that is violation.

    As a creative professional, I actually find it pretty sad that this woman lifted the pictures, used Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma name brands to attract attention, and on top of it, used the same collection names. And then she complains when she's told to stop? She obviously does quality work on her own, why does she need to use their name to prove to people she makes nice stuff?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    BaustoffCaro, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Sounds very funny ^^
    Nice article!
    THX

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    identicon
    Classic Italian Furniture, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 4:55am

    Nice Blog:
    Thanks

    Get traditional italian furniture & italian bedroom furniture for your luxury home from Casa Modern.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    identicon
    storage ottomans, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 5:00am

    Nice Blog:
    Thanks

    Spacify offers modern, designer leather and storage ottoman and ottomans in contemporary style.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    Discount Modern Furniture, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 5:03am

    Nice Blog:
    Thanks

    Discount Loft and dorm furniture offered cheap at metro modern design store. Great RTA furniture value for college dorms.

     

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    identicon
    Cedar Furniture, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 5:06am

    Nice Blog:
    Thanks

    Get log furniture, log beds, log bunk beds, rustic furniture, lodge furniture, cedar furniture at cozylogfurniture.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    Commercial Furniture, Jul 30th, 2010 @ 5:08am

    Nice Blog:
    Thanks

    Onecontract furniture offers Contract, Hospitality, and Institutional, hotel, hospital, school and commercial furniture for architects.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    identicon
    Sabrina, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Williams Sonoma

    Another note about Williams Sonoma and their business methods. You are not able to access Pottery Barn or their other Sonoma websites from outside the United States anymore. This not only affects people that are traveling overseas, but also all the men and women that fight for our country that are not in the US. In the end in my opinion it is very bad business practice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    identicon
    Vinyl Siding Repair, Sep 7th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    This is what top players do when somebody from nowhere outrank them. Poor Williams Sonoma, Inc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    identicon
    mens designer t shirts, Sep 27th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Comments!

    Bloody hell! The comments are more interesting than the article....nearly

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    icon
    jamesndersn (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 2:55am

    Amazing Idea..!I really like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    icon
    Queen Beds (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 3:01am

    This is a good idea to provide awareness among people that how they can build their own furniture.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    identicon
    headset, Dec 15th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Hi

    I appreciate these type of instructions and guidelines for the beginner and sometimes it useful fr professionals as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    identicon
    kitchen cabinets orange county, Dec 22nd, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    I do agree with this statement Of course a larger company can grind out a blog owner or a smaller company with just a few letters even of the legal grounds is shaky, but that's for the courts to decide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    Orange County Seo, Dec 22nd, 2010 @ 4:13pm

    Your post really informative.It will be a growing area to watch this year. Like you say, comments keep the conversation going. hey also provide additional insight to the readers and the blogs. Comments offer a different perspective and put a "face" to the readership.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    kitchen cabinets, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    As part of the Blogger redesign in 2006, all blogs associated with a user's Google Account were migrated to Google servers. Blogger claims that the service is now more reliable because of the quality of the servers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    Moving Boxes, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    In September 2009, Google introduced new features into Blogger as part of its tenth anniversary celebration. The features included a new interface for post editing, improved image handling, Raw HTML Conversion, and other Google Docs-based implementations, including:

    Adding location to posts via geotagging, Post time-stamping at publication, not at original creation, Vertical re-sizing of the post editor.

    The size is saved in a per-user, per-blog preference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    icon
    flopez (profile), Jan 20th, 2011 @ 9:23am

    This post allow you to build your own furniture and how you can build your own furniture Williams Sonoma Nastygrams Blogger is the right way to start it.Silk Flowers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    identicon
    Mastandaa, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 7:46am

    Mastandaa

    Very nice post dude, its really wonderfull, really worth to share and spread.
    Mastandaa

     

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    World cup 2011, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 3:24am

    World cup 2011

    its very usefull post dude, really impressive.
    Cricket Worldcup 2011

     

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    identicon
    Griffin Hoover, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Gee, I'm so confused...

    Its not that confusing. Drop me a line if I could be of any help. affordable websites

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95.  
    identicon
    Hallmark Interiors, Apr 25th, 2011 @ 5:34am

    Nice Post

    Its completely ridiculous that any large manufacturing company would be threatened in any way by any cottage industry, but I kinda don't get why she didn't simply take pictures of her own work rather than copy pictures from the big concern.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    Maribeth Betchara, May 5th, 2011 @ 1:46am

    wow na wow

    the illustration and execution of the article is near flawless. I was fascinated by the presentation of the fact and I believe that this site has a huge hidden potential. Just keep it up.Tenant Background Check

     

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    Condos Consult, Jan 21st, 2012 @ 6:34am

    Nice post

    Really wonderful post, keep sharing good work.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    I had a terrible experience with Williams Sonoma online buying. I purchased grapefruit hand soap. They charged me
    29.00 plus, then took another $50.00 out of my bank account without my permission. After many telephone calls I received $30.00 back, then tried for the additional $20.00 and it was
    a pain to talk to the people in charge. Will never order online again. I was shocked they would take money out of my bank acct without permission. Ended up going to the bank and put a stop pay to Williams Sonoma.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    Anson ansel15, Mar 20th, 2012 @ 4:40am

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    Hi

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    Hi

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    YarnLady, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 9:43am

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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