Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Fendi sues Wal-Mart over alleged bogus bags, wallets

BLOOMBERG , NEW YORK

Fendi SpA, known for its monogrammed handbags and leather goods, sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc, claiming the world's largest retailer sells counterfeit handbags and wallets in its Sam's Club warehouse stores.

In a lawsuit filed on Friday in federal court in New York, Fendi, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, says Sam's Club is selling fake Fendi handbags for up to US$525. The authentic product retails for US$900, Fendi says. Paris-based LVMH is the world's largest luxury-goods maker.

Sam's Club is selling "handbags, shoulder bags, purses, wallets and key chains" that "imitate the designs of the Fendi products" and carry imitation Fendi trademarks, the complaint says.

Wal-Mart chief executive officer H. Lee Scott said this month that his company will add more items for affluent shoppers, as it seeks to alter its image as a destination for lowest-cost items.

Fendi says in its trademark infringement suit that Wal-Mart has earned millions of dollars by selling the knockoffs in stores in New York, California, Illinois and Florida. The company seeks undetermined damages and a ruling blocking Wal-Mart from selling the copies.

Fendi identified 12 alleged knockoffs that Wal-Mart is selling in its Sam's Club stores. A counterfeit wallet is on sale for US$199, the suit says. The retail price for the genuine article is US$385, the suit says.

John Simley, a spokesman for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart didn't immediately return a call.

In July 1999, Wal-Mart agreed to pay Tommy Hilfiger Corp US$6.4 million to settle two federal contempt proceedings, in which Wal-Mart was found to have willfully counterfeited Tommy Hilfiger goods in violation of a 1996 federal court injunction. Wal-Mart was found to have sold counterfeit Hilfiger socks on its on-line Internet site and conducted a "fire sale" of Tommy Hilfiger goods in its Sam's Club stores.

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