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back to article US judge tells Levi's to take its Euro problems to Europe

A US court has said that it did not have a duty to rule whether an online trader had breached EU trademark laws. Under the terms of the US Code and US Constitution – the underlying principles upon which US laws are constructed – federal courts can issue judgments in "supplementary jurisdiction" if claims made in cases "are so …

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Mushroom

No sympathy

Levi's are ripping us off. Price of 501s in the UK - £70-80. Price in the US - half that. They're made in some developing nation sweatshop these days anyway ,and don't last a quarter of the time they used to when they were actually made in America.

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Mushroom

It's all a rip-off

Personally I question the sanity of anyone who thinks that an item of clothing that costs say £4 in generic form from some far-East sweatshop, becomes worth twice, ten times or a hundred times more if it has some bloody label prominently attached to it.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is free to part company with as much of their cash as it takes. Just bear in mind that the more the label says it cost, the more I think "you are a moron" when I see it!

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Anonymous Coward

While in University.

One of my lecturers was making some point or other (can't really remember her argument) about trademarks and mentioned designer jeans. She mentioned how her friends would laugh at her if she didn't wear some top branded jeans when they went out.

In passing she said "What's a woman to do?"

I shot up may hand and said "Get better friends."

The look she gave me convinced me that there's no getting through to these label obsessive types.

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There's more to branding than just the label.

First, here's the simple logic. If the product costs $50.00 in the US, the US company will try and sell it for 50 pounds in the UK. It makes it simpler to not have to constantly adjust the price due to currency fluctuations and the accounting dept trying to write forex hedges.

Second with respect to brand. Its more than just marketing hype. Some value brand based on design. Others vale brand based on quality. I prefer Levis because of fit and durability. I don't walk down to Michigan Ave and buy a pair at their Levi's store. I tend to shop at other stores where the price is discounted to the MSRP.

To Norfool 'n' Goode, while you mock your lecturer, do you wear a Timex watch? They sell for around $35.00 and keep good time. (Or you don't wear one...) Do you have a simple Nokia brick phone that has great phone quality, but just has the basic features and isn't a smart phone?

Buy a 'white box' pc or off brand pc that nobody has heard about from Taiwan? What type of car do you drive? (If you have a car. Depending on where you live, you don't need one.)

While you mocked your teacher, look in the mirror and then take a look to see how branding has affected you.

With respect to the issue at hand, I have to give a thumbs down. What we have isn't a real trademark issue but of a company who isn't licensed to buy product in one market, ship it to another market and sell it at at a discount, but still making money off the transaction due to the large difference in price.

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FAIL

Nonsensical

"Do you have a simple Nokia brick phone that has great phone quality, but just has the basic features and isn't a smart phone?

Buy a 'white box' pc or off brand pc that nobody has heard about from Taiwan? What type of car do you drive? "

Your comment doesn't make any sense. You should have compared IDENTICAL items of IDENTICAL quality from different brands instead of comparing, say, a Nokia brick phone(just makes calls) and a smart phone(does a whole lot of other stuff AND makes calls).

* the comment about the car doesn't make much sense either

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Looking in the wrong place

I hear this a lot about a lot of products in the UK. However, because it seems to be a CONSISTENT a dollar-to-pound rate for so many products, this seems something else may be going on. For example, the US listed price doesn't include sales tax, partly because it varies place to place and partly because it makes the product wound cheaper. The UK also has VAT, which the US doesn't. The UK may have tariffs and import taxes which the US doesn't. And given that, according to a Cato Institute report, about 50% of the UK GDP goes to taxes, it's possible that the cost of business is going to be a LOT higher in the UK.

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"Simpler"

Oh yes, dealing with all those currency fluctuations is such a bore. Always *simpler* just to massively overcharge.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC, You seem like a perfect example of the brand lovie I was talking about.

I buy my products for function, performance and build quality.

For example, I built my PC myself. I chose the components based on their performance/price (bang for buck) then I read reviews to see how they performed in real world situations.

The manufacturer (e.g. ati v's nVidia) was completely irrelevant to my choices.

I have known for decades that I am not swayed by branding and never pay attention to adverts.

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Windows

@There's more to branding than just the label.

"First, here's the simple logic. If the product costs $50.00 in the US, the US company will try and sell it for 50 pounds in the UK. It makes it simpler to not have to constantly adjust the price due to currency fluctuations and the accounting dept trying to write forex hedges."

Yep So if something costs $50 in the US, let's sell it for 50 yen in Japan. Or 50 sheckels in Israel.. Then the price doesn't have to change with fuc*k-you-Asians.

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Joke

Rip-off?? Yeah, my Girlie is wearing a pair of (fake) Levi's.

I can't wait to rip 'em off when she gets home from work. Once I can remember where I hid the Viagra tabs, natch...

I also need to rip her knickers off. They're far too tight for me...

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You still use branded Viagra?

Let me tell you about this Canadian online pharmacy...

On the main point, the law seems to be that Levi are entitled not to have quality-seeking customers in Europe offered the lousy rags that Levi chooses to sell under its trademark in les fussy countries. Whether the outside-EU product actually is any worse may or may not be relevant under the law. The EU is anti-import by default anyway: it's one of the things that it was set up for.

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Holmes

@Phil 54

The point of the comment was asking if the person buys a basic product in the belief that a phone is just a phone and a watch is just a watch.

Norfolk was being judgmental and cynical about a person who was complaining about the high cost of brands and that her friends judged her based on the brands... aka a 'tag whore'.

My point is that if you're going to suggest that someone is shallow because they are brand conscious, then they should look at themselves.

Timex makes a series of inexpensive watches that keep good time. So why do you need to spend $$$ on a Rolex, or some other name brand watches? (There's a whole list I could name.)

Your phone. Why do you need or want an iPhone or some other 'smart phone', since you could just buy a phone to send texts and make calls.

The point is that you are more brand conscious than you think, and there is nothing wrong with it.

When I buy jeans, I buy Levis because 1) They last. 2) I like the cut of the jeans and 3) I can afford to buy what brand of products I want.

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Holmes

@Norfolk 'n' Goode

'I buy my products for function, performance and build quality.'

Ah... so now you're starting to fall in to the trap.

I too build my own PCs and Linux servers.

When I have to build a new server, I look at the brands that I know and trust.

So my mother boards for PCs are MSI. Why? Because I've never had a problem with them and they offer good price performance.

MSI has built their brand based on the quality of their product. So now I am 'brand loyal' in that they will be my first source for my motherboards.

The point is that it doesn't make me a 'tag whore' but someone who is going to give preference to a specific brand. You mention ATI vs NVidia. But there are off brand manufacturers that build cards to either ATI or NVidia's specifications. You didn't mention them.

Like I said, you're not even aware that you are yourself brand centric.

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WTF?

Um...

Didn't somebody already point out that comparing an iPhone to a basic Nokia job IS NOT COMPARING LIKE WITH LIKE.

Personally I have a Blackberry cos having teh webz & email in my pocket is very useful in my job. Even if I didn't use it in work, that's still functionality that has value. Timex are a rip-off, my Casio's not gone out a second in>5 years.

You buy Levi's because you like the label. Then you try to justify it while calling everyone else out. FFS.

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Levi's no great deal

Count the belt loops. Levi's => five belt loops; $13 jeans from Costco or Walmart => seven belt loops. Seven belt loops means the jeans hang better and the belt doesn't ride up over the top of the pant. IOW, Costco and Walmart are better quality. I've found that the Costco & Walmart jeans fit better and last longer too

I think (but haven't checked) that Levi's are lighter weight denim. I also don't know if Levi's still use rivets. Rivets and thicker denim were the key features that made the original Levi's popular in the gold fields in California.

Designer labels at one time meant better quality but that has not been generally true for three decades.

Also, people who ride horses don't buy Levi's because Levi's put the thick french seam on the inseam, where it chafes. Wranglers put it on the outside. So IMHO at this time Levi's are just riding on the trademark, being bought by people who don't really look for quality but look for the name.

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WTF?

Few years ago levis were just as expensive as in europe.

It was that reason alone I stopped buying Levi's in USA for about 10 years.

The price has come down some but also I am noticing that the life cycle tends to be shorter as well.

I have 5 pairs and they last me under 2 years.

I have student cut

relaxed cut

501 and the 501 style but with zippers forgot that model number.. 502 or 504?

But anyhow I am not a loyal customer anymore.

Hard as heck to find 36x36 in stores.

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Coat

Re: Rip-off?? Yeah, my Girlie is wearing a pair of (fake) Levi's.

"I also need to rip her knickers off. They're far too tight for me..."

Then why wear her knickers? Shirley a trip to the shop would turn up ladies knickers in your size.

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Pirate

Globalisation works both ways

Big corporations are quite happy to shop around the world to find the most tax-friendly regimes and low-wage workforces to base their operations. They can hardly complain when customers shop around the world to find the cheapest place to buy their goods.

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Couldn't agree more

This is another form of protectionism, plain and simple.

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Unhappy

Bloody doesn't

> Globalisation works both ways

you and I's part in this great game is to put our hands in our collective pockets and get sh****ed. The big boys have got this all nicely sown up. They are allowed to shop around the world and use near slave labour (so long as some big shot news mag doesn't catch them - except think of the ad revenue). They are then legally allowed to have grey importers shutdown.

Sure if you want to go to the US and stroll into J C Penny or some such they can't stop you stocking up on 10 pairs of 501 at $19 per pair to so covering your airfare. But they can stop some back street dealer sourcing their precious product in the worlds cheapest and then importing them into the highest mark up one.

Globalisation isn't really a two way street, it is there for the benefit of those who can afford to pay lobbyists

Yours not to reason why

yours just to pay and pay.

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Meh

Do I understand this correctly

A trader operates entirely in the EU. They buy Levi's and then flog them on, much like say, Next? But are missing some sort of "official" reseller license? Required under merkin laws?

Levi's then "allege that the trader has violated US federal and state laws" .... so what? These chaps operate in the EU so who gives a rat's tail what merkin federal and state laws say?

I must've missed something because this sounds pathetic even by the merkin standards!

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this sounds pathetic even by the merkin standards!

That's basically what the Merkin judge said in legalese, so make that extra-pathetic.

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Unhappy

The ECJ will stop them in the end...

..as they did in 2001 when Levi stopped Tesco and Costco from selling Levi jeans at fair prices. Same as when Sony stopped Lik Sang from selling PSPs to Europe.

European trademark law allows a trademark owner to prevent grey imports.

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@AC

>>"Do I understand this correctly. A trader operates entirely in the EU...."

Seems not.

>> >>"Levi Strauss & Co had argued that Papikian Enterprises had violated the EU's Trademark Directive by buying Levi trademarked goods outside the EU..."

Shallow though it may be, what seems to have made Levis fashionable in the EU and still desirable to many even at a high prices is expensive advertising.

The greater the extent to which people are actually buying a label based on an expensively-constructed image, the more understandable it is that the company which has shelled out the cash to build that image wants to get some return on it without being undercut by people who haven't made the investment.

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Childcatcher

then...

don't spend so much on advertising ...

when a captive audience loses its captivity - change your business strategy. not the laws around it.

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@Ian 16

>>"when a captive audience loses its captivity - change your business strategy. not the laws around it."

That might be what people in general might prefer happened, but the company seems to have found an easier way to keep the audience captive, or at least to stop other companies publicly undercutting them with their own products on a large scale.

Someone doing things on a smaller scale, shipping stuff to the EU for sale on street market stalls might be more likely to get away with it.

But then, I guess that kind of action might not only make a smaller dent on LS's profits due to the smaller size of operation, but might be rather less undermining to their expensively-bought image than having the jeans discounted in Tesco (or continental equivalents) and advertised as being sold cheap would be.

Even if I don't like the current setup, I can understand why they might see it not only as good for them, but even as arguably fair. After all, they're not actually stopping anyone /else/ making jeans and selling them for whatever price they want wherever they want to sell them, they're just trying to reap the rewards themselves that result from promoting their own brand in various places.

If I couldn't find retailers of grey products advertising openly but I could get cheap stuff down the local market, that'd seem like a fair kind of compromise, since people wouldn't be advertising in ways that actually risked undermining the manufacturer's own image-making while still effectively hoping to profit from it to some extent.

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Re: The ECJ will stop them in the end...

Given that Levis already did this with Tesco and Costco at the ECJ, it seems surprising that they are now trying to get a court in the USA to make a ruling this time around. Maybe Levis reckon they would make more money from a case in the USA.

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Bronze badge

More than pathetic

The thing is, LS&Co don't seem to have bothered to explain to the Judge why, under the American laws, he even has jurisdiction. It's not about the merits of their complaint: they didn't bother to explain why a court in Europe couldn't be trusted to enforce the laws of Europe.

But some lawyers will have run up billable time over this.

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Go

Wow....

...so US law does not equal world law after all. I'm stunned.

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Indeed

And an American that doesn't think that "world geography" means naming state capitals and recognises Borders.

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Who cares?

I get my jeans for £5 from Asda. Designer brand too (George). Then I get on with my life.

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I do

You mean Georgio at the House of Asdana.

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Megaphone

Rip Off Europe!

If i want a pair of 501s i order them from a US supplier. I can get 2 pairs for the same price of 1 pair in the UK, after import taxes and shipping costs!

The quality is better too, it turns out US and EU supplied jeans are made in different places. I've got a pair of both UK bought and US bought 501s and the US bought are holding up much better.

It's not just the UK either; I was in France a few weeks ago and they are getting shafted as badly as we are.

Levis - don't take the piss out of consumers are we won't figure out ways to stop you. We're not stupid.

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Ru
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Trollface

"don't take the piss out of consumers... We're not stupid"

Ahahaha.

Aha.

Sir, surely you jest?

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Hm...

I noticed this when I was in Europe. (And it's not like 1990 when I went to Eastern Europe with an extra suitcase packed with new Levi's. And my own toilet paper.)

"Levis - don't take the piss out of consumers are we won't figure out ways to stop you. We're not stupid."

Levi Strauss & Co do not make money if customers are unsatisfied; that can only happen longterm when there is an effective monopoly. Given how interventionist and tax-happy the nanny states of Europe can be, maybe it isn't LS&Co

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It's not just the jeans either.

I like Dockers trousers (another Levi brand for those that don't know)

The Dockers I have bought in the US are much better quality than those I have bought in the UK, they last longer (I have a bony arse and get though trousers at an alarming rate) - and they're cheaper too of course.

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Mushroom

What f**in bullshit

This "violated the EU's Trademark Directive by buying Levi trademarked goods outside the EU and selling them to individuals and third parties within the territory without its consent." should have absolutely no place in trademark law.

Levi's aren't arguing that the goods are fake, they're their own goods labelled for a different market. The only reason for this sort of bullshit is so Levi's can sell the same $5 made-in-china pair of jeans for $6 in India, $10 in Russia and $100 in the EU. F*ck that, it's simply legalised price-gouging

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Anonymous Coward

I understand the frustration of commentators...

Levi's have invested in their brand in the same way as other successful manufacturers. Their shareholders (banks, individuals, employees and Pension funds) expect a return on that investment. Through globalisation they make at the lowest cost to a specification that is appropriate to maintain their planned sales and planned profits.

If some ner-do-well oik comes along - be it you, me, Tesco or the current bulk seller - and undercuts the MRRP then Levi's don't make the planned sales and planned profit but, just as importantly, the perceived brand value is diminished at no benefit to Levi's. If they can't prevent the oik getting the genuine product then they have to go to court - as in this case. They may have detected an American link to this operator so tried to use that because they're pretty sure they'd get short shrift in Europe.

This doesn't detract at all from the argument that the cost/sell price differential appears exploitatively large but, at the end of the day it is down to people buying their product and buying into their sales and marketing. If you resent the differential don't buy the product.

I don't but then I'm holier than you! I just buy apple mackbooks, but not jesus phones or pads and pods...

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Pint

Missing the point

This is an online trader.

What's their URL? I need new jeans.

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WTF?

Works out better than UK bought

www.501usa.com/

The Original Levi Red Tab 501 button fly jeans $44.95 Delivery $18

so add the 20% VAT, no import duty if you order each pair as a seperate item say a week or so apart

$74.54, exchange rate $1.60 = £47

UK price £75

or just find someone going to merkin land and get thm to pick you up a couple of pairs

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Windows

amazon.cn?

Translate.google.com is your friend.

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Unhappy

Levis jeans are good quality, but too expensive in Europe

As someone who is on the larger side, I would always go for a pair of Levi jeans as they are always (in my experience) well made and resilient. Getting them at a good price and in my size is something that American stockists do, but UK ones don't.

Last time I tried to get some, I put in an order at JC Penney (something I had successfully done 2 years before) only to receive an email telling me that they are not allowed to export to Europe. So I'm back to the lesser quality stuff I can get in Debenhams (for about the same price as imported Levi's) that wear through in areas of contact in about 1/3 of the time.

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Paris Hilton

why levi's, and why all the issues buying from the US?

They wear OK, but Carhartt wears & looks better, geek-wise. Levi's just don't use the material they used to, although they still remain Levi's, and I suppose that's something.

I usually buy them at Orscheln's, but I suppose across the Atlantic they won't ship, Hmmm?

http://www.orschelnfarmhome.com/work-pant-sizes-2844-waists/ctl16754/cp58005/si5285781/cl1/

I'd try ebay -- supposing you send a message to your favorite US-based seller that will ship international, and possibly a pair in your size would be featured in an auction.

Just sayin'

ilgamal

PH, because even her bony arse looks good in Levi's.

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Mushroom

Sod them

Levi's have two choices

1) Reduce the price in the EU; or

2) Increase the price elsewhere

That will stop the exploitation of the price disparity. Resorting to legal measures like this is just trying to restrict free-trade.

The sad thing is, when this hits the EU courts they'll probably let Levi's get away with it (just like how the capitulated over CDs, DVDs etc). Why the hell the EU (and the USA) are anti-free-trade is quite beyond me.

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@The BigYin

>>"The sad thing is, when this hits the EU courts they'll probably let Levi's get away with it "

If the law is on Levi's side, it's not really a case of 'getting away with it'.

Any 'getting away' really happened when the law was brought in.

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Bronze badge

In theory ...

"Under the terms of the US Code and US Constitution – the underlying principles upon which US laws are constructed –"

In truth, we now have a system of the lawyer, by the lawyer, for the lawyer.

Then again, as Henry Kissinger said, it's only the bad lawyers ruining the reputation of the other 5%.

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Anonymous Coward

First, we kill all the lawyers...

This low opinion of lawyers was around in Shakespeare's day.

My recent experiences, lawyers and estate agents, are putting me in the same mood.

And I'm not so sure about the Police, either.

But at least the Police don't profit from inefficiency.

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Black Helicopters

Bah.

Of course they profit from inefficiency. Bureaucracy like anything else. The more people in jails for minor offenses, the busier they look, the bigger next years' budget is.

Same goes for traffic enforcement -- there are better ways to get people to wear seat belts, drive the speed limit & park in the right places, but as long as they can keep themselves employed, they will do things the way they always have.

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Silver badge

Bah!

See, now this is why jeans should come with zones like DVDs do, so consumers don't get "confused".

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Pint

If They Came...

...stuffed with lasses asses, like in the thumbnail, i wouldn't care WHAT the price was.

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