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Business

Tug of War over a Pair of Jeans

The UK’s biggest supermarket chain Tesco wanted to sell Levi 501 jeans at cut prices. The US clothing giant took Tesco to court and won a landmark case ensuring its denims will not be available at cut price in Europe.

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"real blow to European consumers"

The issue before the European Court of Justice was the right of a supermarket to sell cut price Levi 501 jeans.

It then took teams of lawyers working for three years to decide whether Tesco had the right to sell cut price Levis’ 501 jeans.

Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, has been selling jeans it bought in the US and imported – selling them on for almost half the price of other UK retailers.

Levis took Tesco to court and won. The supermarket chain said it was shocked to have lost the case.

"It is very disappointing for customers," a Tesco spokesman said. "We had a tremendous opportunity here to buy from places like America and that has been denied to us for the time being."

The European court broke new ground in protecting the rights
of trademark holders. It ruled that retailers importing goods into the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, require permission from the trade mark holder, when setting prices below the recommended retail price.

Phillip Whitehead, the British Labour Party's spokesman on consumer affairs in the European Parliament, described the ruling as a "real blow to consumers who seek to buy legitimate branded goods at the best available prices throughout the EU."

The judgement means that Levis can sell jeans cheap in the US, while marketing the same trousers as an up-market fashion brand abroad.