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In Blumenthal Distributing, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 963 F.3d 859 (9th Cir. June 25, 2020), the 9th Circuit considered whether or not the or not the best-selling piece of furniture ever, the Aeron chair, and another iconic seating design, the Eames Aluminum Group chairs are functional. No doubt the reader has seen the chairs — he or she may even be sitting in one while reading this article. The court clarified, in effect, that such complex designs are indeed more than the sums of their parts and cannot be reduced to constituent elements unless the combination makes the whole more functional.
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By Rudy Kim and James Hancock
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