Kohler Co. is suing Essential Hardware, alleging the New Jersey-based online home improvement retailer is infringing on the Sheboygan County company’s copyrights by using its images without permission.
[caption id="attachment_336428" align="alignright" width="393"] The lawsuit included examples of Essential Hardware allegedly using Kohler images.[/caption]
According to the complaint, Kohler discovered Essential Hardware used at least three of its copyrighted product images without consent and sent letters demanding the company stop using them in April. The images included Alteo Widespread and Devonshire faucets and the Santa Rosa toilet. Essential Hardware was listing the products at prices $30 to $90 below what Kohler lists on its website.
Kohler allows authorized e-tailers to use its copyrighted photos to sell plumbing and bathroom products but Essential Hardware was not an authorized retailer, the complaint says. Kohler adds that it has spent millions on advertising in connection to its trademarks and copyrighted photos.
The complaint says Essential Hardware agreed in June to remove the images from its website. At various points in July, Essential Hardware told Kohler it was “very close,” “a couple days out” and “at the last step” in removing the images.
The images were allegedly still being used by Essential Hardware when the lawsuit was filed on Thursday.
Kohler is seeking at least $75,000, but the total could go higher. The company specifically is asking for any profits Essential Hardware made from using the images, the actual damages Kohler suffered because the images were used and three times that amount because the use was intentional.
Neither company responded to requests for comment.