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US Supreme Court to hear Omega versus Costco

Swiss watchmaker Omega will go before the United States Supreme Court to argue against discount giant Costco selling its watches for less than they cost elsewhere.

This content was published on April 20, 2010 - 21:59

The number three US retailer has offered Omega timepieces for up to a third less than other retailers by purchasing the watches from a third party abroad, importing them back into the US and then selling the timepieces for less.

Omega says Costco has no right to do that and has used copyright laws to argue its case.

Omega does not own a US copyright on the watches themselves but does hold one on a symbol engraved on the timepieces when they are made. A lower court sided with Omega previously but Costco has appealed against that decision.

The Obama administration said it was troubled by certain aspects of the lower court’s ruling but urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the case. That did not happen and justices have agreed to weigh in on the legal fight in the autumn.

The high court has previously ruled that copyright protections do not apply to goods made in the United States, sold abroad and then imported back into the country for resale. The opposite is case with Omega.

The case has significant implications for a slew of other huge discount sellers, including eBay and Amazon, which do an estimated $58 billion (SFr61.8 billion) in business with so-called grey-market goods.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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