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2000-04-27
Los Angeles,CA. Adidas & Nike Sue Wal-Mart

It seems like every few months the federal courts are approached by manufacturers suing Wal-Mart for selling counterfeit goods. In the past, its been Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and others. This week, it's Adidas and Nike who are again in court to prevent Wal-Mart from selling T-shirts with phony logo brands. The two companies claim that Wal-Mart is selling several styles of counterfeit T-shirts at Sam's Clubs. In an earlier lawsuit, Wal-Mart was charged with selling fake brand Hilfiger's on its website. In that case from 1998, Wal-Mart paid Hilfiger $6.4 million to settle the lawsuit. That's a lot of T shirts. In the same year, 3 other brands took Wal-Mart to court: Ralph Lauren, Nautica and Fubu. Wal-Mart settled the Polo and Nautica case by paying out more than half a million dollars. Several years ago, Nike sued Wal-Mart for selling a shoe from a Korean manufacturer that infringed on Nike's patent. Wal-Mart limply responds to these latest suits by saying to Reuters: "We would never knowingly sell merchandise that was not 100 genuine." Examine that statement: how do you sell something that's 85% genuine? Wal-Mart suggests that it is being duped by the vendors it does business with -- yet the company claims to scrutinize its suppliers to weed out the less-than-genuine. "If they can't prove it's authentic, we don't buy it," a company spokesman said. Yet the lawsuits continue. Adidas came down hard on Wal-Mart. "Counterfeit sales by retailers like Wal-Mart are particularly troublesome to us, because the customer's guard is totally down. Anyone who walks in Sam's Club has no inkling that the goods he or she is buying may not be authentic," said an Adidas representative. Perhaps the label on those Adidas T shirts should read "Sucker" instead.

What you can do: Wal-Mart boasts that over 100 million people shop at their stores each week (that means 171 milliion of us don't). Millions of Americans who walk down the aisles of Sam's Clubs can't be certain that the products they see on the shelves are, in fact, really the brands they want -- or just cheap imitations. According to companies like Nike, Polo, Hilfiger, and Nautica, the world's largest retailer is passing off phony goods to unsuspecting consumers. Wal-Mart pleads that it is an "unknowing" victim of such scams, and the vendors keep filing lawsuits to warn the public that what you see may not be what you get. Wal-Mart says it has inspectors who check out branded goods to ensure that they are authentic. These latest lawsuits suggest otherwise. The brand name producers take it seriously enough to drag the giant retailer to court. The safest response from consumers is to shop at stores where the brands are what they say they area. If you 'knowingly" shop at Wal-Mart, prepare to be "unknowingly" taking home phony goods. The rule of thumb is: If you can't prove its authentic, don't buy it.










 
 
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