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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nike, Adidas Sue Wal-Mart Over Counterfeits

LOS ANGELES -- A unit of German sportswear giant Adidas joined forces with archrival Nike and filed suit Wednesday against Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, for allegedly selling counterfeit Nike and Adidas branded T-shirts at its wholesale club stores.

Adidas America Inc., its parent Adidas-Salomon AG, Adidas International BV of the Netherlands, and Nike Inc., are claiming that the discount retailer has been selling several styles of counterfeit Adidas and Nike T-shirts at its "Sam's Club" wholesale club stores.

Nike also alleged that Wal-Mart has been selling other counterfeit Nike products at Sam's Club.

"Counterfeit sales by retailers like Wal-Mart are particularly troublesome because the customer's guard is totally down. Anyone who walks into Sam's Club has no inkling that the goods he or she is buying may not be authentic," said Michael Heilbronner, associate counsel, intellectual property at Adidas America, in a statement.

A spokesman for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said it takes the allegations seriously but had not been notified by any of the plaintiffs of complaints about counterfeit goods or of the lawsuit itself.

"We would never knowingly sell merchandise that was not 100 percent genuine," said Wal-Mart spokesman Les Copeland.

Adidas and Nike become the fifth and sixth major sportswear companies to sue Wal-Mart for selling counterfeits in the last two years, the two companies said in a statement.

In 1998, Tommy Hilfiger brought two actions against Wal-Mart for selling counterfeit items, while Polo Ralph Lauren, Nautica and Fubu lodged similar claims against the retailer for counterfeit. Wal-Mart recently settled the Polo and Nautica claims by paying $565,000, while Fubu's claims are still pending.