Tesco faces legal fight over 'fake' Hilfiger

IN THE latest twist in the war between supermarkets and designer labels, Tesco was yesterday served with a writ accusing the stores of selling fake Tommy Hilfiger goods.

The US sportswear fashion business claims that some clothing on sale in the supermarkets was the work of counterfeiters and has served a writ seeking damages and a High Court injunction to stop the stores selling allegedly fake products

But Tesco immediately reacted by saying that it "absolutely believes" that the garments on sale are genuine and accused Tommy Hilfiger of trying to "muddy the waters" over the issue of selling designer labels in supermarkets. It added that there "would not be any issue if brands like Tommy Hilfiger agreed to supply us directly".

Undercover agents bought sample goods from 25 Tesco stores at the time of the promotion which started on Easter weekend. The company said that clothing was sent to the United States to be tested. A spokesman said that Tommy Hilfiger had carried out exhaustive "due diligence" studies to establish what was counterfeit, adding: "You do not go up against a company like Tesco without having done your homework first."

Tesco had bought the merchandise from unofficial sources - the so-called "grey market" - as part of drive to target designer labels which refuse to supply the chain on the grounds that their stores are not the right environment for expensive clothing.

The Hilfiger offer, available in 200 stores, is the latest in a series of high-profile attempts to sell leading brands at cheaper prices.

Tesco has targeted several designer labels in this way, starting with the sale of cheap Levi jeans and followed by offers on Calvin Klein clothes.

On Wednesday, to the fury of Umbro, it started selling official England and Scotland World Cup football shirts for about 25 per cent less than other British retailers.

A spokesman for Tommy Hilfiger said yesterday that the issue was not about Tesco selling its goods cheaply, but whether the customer was being sold counterfeit goods. "Tommy Hilfiger is a globally respected brand and we owe it to all our consumers that whenever they buy Tommy Hilfiger merchandise they can be sure it is genuine," said Fred Gehring, chief executive of Tommy Hilfiger Europe.

"We are therefore determined to take this legal action to stamp out the trade in counterfeit goods".

The writ, which includes a claim for damages, calls for an injunction to restrain Tesco from infringing trademarks and "passing off" clothing and accessories as having been made by Tommy Hilfiger.

The writ also calls for the supermarket chain to destroy all remaining allegedly counterfeit Hilfiger-branded items in its possession and to identify "all persons and corporations" which had supplied it with the allegedly counterfeit goods.

John Gildersleeve, a director of Tesco, said that if there was ever doubt about the authenticity of its goods, it would withdraw them inmediately.

"We don't understand why Tommy Hilfiger has taken this action now. We have been seeling their products for over seven weeks and have given them access to inspect the full range.

"They have repeatedly refused to meet us to discuss supply issues. We can only believe that this is a move to muddy the waters over the real issue of selective distribution - a system that brands operate to restrict supplies and maintain high prices."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reception Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

English Teacher

£21806 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking to j...

SEN KS1 Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

Reception Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor