Levi Strauss had argued that retailers buying its goods from suppliers outside of the European Union and then re-selling them without their permission, were breaking the law.
The European Court of Justice seemed to beg to differ, although competition experts say the ruling is unclear.
Today’s ruling is only the first in a series of rulings but the prelimary verdict seemingly in Tesco’s favour means that their case (discussed at length in BicycleBusiness, issue 17, page 10 ‘Jeans ruling may impact on bikes’) has been massively strengthened.
Tescos is already treating the ruling as an outright victory.
Supermarkets are keen to expand their non-food offerings and this could be benchmark case for them.
However, competition experts say the ruling by Advocate General Stix-Hackl is a reiteration of existing law and is not breaking new ground.
Stix-Hackl said: "account must be taken of the interests of traders involved when it comes to parallel imports from non member countries….[The] rights to exclusivity deriving from a trade market also include the right of the trade market proprietor freely to determine the conditions under which he wishes to market his product and control its distribution."