A year ago today, Counterfeit Chic noted that Fendi had sued Wal-Mart for allegedly selling fakes. Wal-Mart denied the claims, and spectators took sides. Was the world's largest retailer offering counterfeit merchandise, or was LVMH simply trying to protect the exclusive aura of its Fendi brand by keeping grey market goods (legit trademarked items intended for one market but diverted elsewhere) off of decidedly lower rent shelves?
Two days ago, WWD reported that the discount behemoth and the luxury titan had settled the case. Alas, the settlement is sealed, but it is acknowledged that Wal-Mart agreed to pay Fendi a confidential sum as part of the agreement. Given the size of the parties and the sales volume at issue, the amount presumably wasn't sofa change.
While the payment doesn't necessarily indicate wrongdoing on Wal-Mart's part -- sometimes it's cheaper to settle than to litigate -- other aspects of the parties' agreement point in the direction of the Fendis having been fake. The bags are long gone from the shelves. Moreover, Sam's Club, the Wal-Mart division that carried the bags, will send letters instructing customers how to return Fendi merchandise. A Wal-Mart official even apologized to the company's customers (though not to LVMH):
Susan Koehler, a spokeswoman for Sam's Club, said Wednesday that its statement about Fendi products not being counterfeits "was made early on. As the case evolved, we were provided additional information. We want to try to communicate to our members our apologies. We want to make this right."
Rumor has it that teams of Wal-Mart employees will also be dispatched to wash the Fendi CEO's car and mow his lawn(s) for a year.