28 April 2017Trademarks

Duracell accuses wholesaler of selling grey market batteries

Battery producer Duracell has accused a Missouri-based wholesaler of illegally importing and distributing grey market versions of its well-known copper-top alkaline batteries.

Filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division yesterday, the claim alleged that JRS Ventures had imported Duracell batteries that were originally intended to be sold solely to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

OEMs are manufacturers that sell another company’s product under their own name and branding.

“These diverted products are offered for sale in unauthorised packaging that fails to include important information for consumers,” said the claim.

According to Duracell, the grey market goods fail to provide a description of the Duracell guarantee and the phone number to Duracell’s customer service department on their packaging.

Duracell has sold batteries marked with its ‘Duracell’ name and copper-and-black colour scheme for more than 50 years, said the suit.

It owns the trademark registration for ‘Duracell’ in international classes 7, 9, 11, 12, and 15, as well as US class 021.

Duracell said it had discovered that JRS was selling the grey market goods in March this year.

“Although the batteries appear to be authentic Duracell products, many of them were manufactured in China, for the sole purpose of being distributed to OEMs only, and not for the importation and direct sale to consumers in the US,” added the claim.

Duracell said it had sent a cease-and-desist letter to JRS but that it had been rejected.

“Finally, defendant’s unauthorised actions have caused plaintiff to spend money, time, and other resources to investigate and mitigate the effects of defendant’s actions.”

Duracell is seeking permanent injunctive relief, triple damages, punitive damages, a jury trial, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

The battery maker was acquired in 2014 by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

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