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US: Fendi sues Wal-Mart over fake handbags

Reuters
June 11th, 2006

Italian fashion group Fendi S.R.L. sued Wal-Mart Stores in U.S. federal court on Friday, accusing the world's largest retailer of selling counterfeit handbags and passing them off as genuine at its Sam's Club warehouse stores.

Sam's Club stores in California, New York, Florida and other states sold knock off handbags, wallets and key chains that were identified as "genuine" Fendi products, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The suit by Fendi said that Wal-Mart has never purchased its products and never asked Fendi if any of the items bearing its trademark were genuine.

Fendi products are typically sold at high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States and Fendi boutiques all over the world.

Wal-Mart said late on Friday that it had not seen the complaint and therefore could not comment.

In one example cited in the lawsuit, a black handbag bearing Fendi's trademark logo was offered for sale in a Sam's Club store in Miami for $508.25, 45 percent less than the retail price of $930 for a genuine Fendi bag.

Fendi, a unit of French luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton said in the suit that Wal-Mart has made millions of dollars selling the counterfeit goods.

Fendi is seeking unspecified damages and asked that the handbags and other illegal Fendi merchandise be destroyed.

Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville, Ark.

Sam's Club stores, which sell everything from bulk groceries to office supplies, recently said it would ratchet up competition with rival Costco Wholesale by selling more luxury goods like fine wines and diamonds.



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