Some furniture sold by a new company called MacTable, are actually made by Green Design Furniture of Portland, Maine. Green Design said MacTable wasn’t supposed to be selling their products.
Inventor and designer, Douglas Green, founded Green Design in 1993. Green told MacCentral that they sell the products themselves and don’t work through resellers. He also said that the prices for their work are more affordable than the costs listed by MacTable.
MacTable is a Mac-focused Web store that sells “furniture, accessories and gadgets designed to complement a high-end Mac system,” according to founder Jack Campbell. Green Design Furniture offers cherry furniture that is assembled and glued together using mortise-and-tenon joinery.
Campbell told MacCentral that the entire situation is a misunderstanding. He said that he contacted a furniture distributor in Louisville, Kentucky, about a month ago about a wooden desk a friend suggested that he investigate for inclusion in his store offerings.
“The fellow e-mailed me some pictures and pricing, and decided the desk wasn’t right for my site, and told him this,” Campbell told MacCentral. “When I spoke with him, he told me he had another line of wooden desks that he could offer me that were ‘built locally, and were of the highest quality.’ He then e-mailed me the photos seen on my site. I was impressed with the product and with the supporting marketing material, and I agreed to sell the desks on MacTable, with him agreeing that I would be the exclusive Internet seller of these products.”
He said the man in Kentucky was planning on simply passing through a factory purchase to his customer, made directly from Green Designs. MacTable went live last Thursday and Friday morning Campbell was contacted by Green.
“I then spoke with his attorney and provided the contact information for the Louisville ‘distributor,’ for his possible legal action,” Campbell said. “Of course, I immediately removed the wrongly placed products from the MacTable site, and made a very sincere apology, and offer of compensation for any possible ill effects, to Mr. Green. My Mac community activities are my hobby, undertaken for fun and to provide some value back into the community, where possible. I earn my living through several non-Mac financial services and consulting businesses that I own.”
Campbell said that he spent last Friday on the telephone re-verifying all of his upstream vendor arrangements for all remaining products, just to make sure that there were no more “misunderstandings” such had already occurred. You can read more about it in Campbell’s online note, which explains why MacTable is temporarily closed.
However, he also said that, even if the Green Designs tables had been placed on his site intentionally, with the idea of filling any orders with tables that he would buy directly from Green Designs, that no law would have been broken and no “rule” would have been violated. Even reusing advertising materials placed in the public domain by Green would not be a “copyright” infraction, Campbell said.
“There is no law or regulation in this country forbidding any business from buying a product from any source, marking it up a bit, and reselling it,” he added. “And, there is also no law or rule that prohibits that business from using the manufacturer’s advertising materials to promote an honest sale of the manufacturer’s product, with or without the explicit permission of the manufacturer; the act of publishing the advertising material into the public domain opens the fair use of that material in any honest promotion of the same product. If a sale were being diverted from the manufacturer to another by use of the materials, then that would be improper use. However, again, if the sale being promoted is indeed an honest sale of that product made by that manufacturer, there is no harm and no foul. Again, I did not intend any such thing, but was acting on the belief that a legitimate reseller was sourcing the tables to me.”