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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Tesco defeated in cheap jeans battle
A Tesco shop assistant with Levis jeans at a Tesco store in Newcastle
Levi Strauss does not like its jeans sold alongside groceries
Supermarket giant Tesco has lost its landmark legal fight for the right to sell designer goods at low prices.

The High Court has upheld a ruling in November that Tesco was not allowed to sell cut price Levi jeans without permission from the US-based clothes giant.


Tesco may have lost their legal battle against Levi's - but the real loser is the consumer

Phil Evans, Consumers' Association
While the court allowed Tesco leave to appeal, the High Street giant, which has spent four years fighting its case, said it had reached the "end of the legal road".

But Tesco pledged to continue its campaign through political channels, saying it would battle for changes to European trade legislation.

"It is now time for the law itself to be changed," the retailer said.

'Devoid of substance'

Tesco has sold jeans at about half the price recommended by Levi Strauss, obtaining them from wholesalers in European countries where they are sold more cheaply.

But Levi Strauss complained over the effects on its brand of the cost cuts, and of the sale of its clothes in supermarkets, launching a legal protest viewed a test case for the sale of all designer goods.

The European Court of Justice in November backed Levi's argument, saying that retailers could not sell branded goods from outside Europe without the consent of the trademark owner.

High Court judge Mr Justice Pumfrey upheld this ruling on Wednesday, dismissing as "devoid of any substance" claims that Levi Strauss was, in trying to control the sale of its jeans, breaking human rights laws.

Levi relief

The ruling was welcomed by Joe Middleton, president of Levi Strauss Europe, Middle East and Africa, who said it would protect a brand that represented the firm's "most valuable asset".

"For 130 years the Levi's name has been a promise of outstanding quality and value," Mr Middleton said

"This decision allows us to carry on keeping that promise."

But consumer groups backed Tesco's call for a change to European laws.

"The EU must change this anti-consumer law and change it quickly," said Phil Evans, principal policy adviser at the Consumers' Association.

"Tesco may have lost their legal battle against Levi's - but the real loser is the consumer."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"This battle has been going on for about five years"
See also:

16 Jan 01 | Business
15 Jan 01 | Business
03 Mar 00 | Business
06 Aug 98 | Business
16 Jul 98 | Business
08 Jul 99 | Politics
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