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Reuters reports that Sears has been sued by Stanley Black & Decker, the company that bought Sears’ Craftsman tool brand in 2017 for about $900 million.

The reason? Sears has launched a new line of “professional-grade mechanics tools under the Craftsman Ultimate Collection brand,” and has been describing its stores as “the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman.”

The suit accuses Sears of breach of contract, and argues that “Sears' actions threaten to confuse shoppers and irreparably harm Stanley's own Craftsman brand and trademarks, as well as its goodwill and customer relationships.”

Sears’ defense is that the terms of the sale granted it a “limited license” to sell some Craftsman products.

Reuters notes that “Sears emerged from Chapter 11 in February after longtime Chairman Edward Lampert, who oversaw its years-long descent into bankruptcy, won court approval for a $5.2 billion takeover, which included the Craftsman licensing rights. The reorganized company was expected to have about 425 Sears and Kmart stores, down from roughly 3,500 when those companies merged in 2005. Sears brands also include DieHard and Kenmore.”
KC's View:
Not being a lawyer, I have no idea if Sears’ “limited license” argument will hold up, though it just seems typical of the Lampert regime to pull a stunt like this.

There has been a lot of speculation that Sears also would sell off the DieHard and Kenmore brands, which somehow have managed to maintain brand equity and integrity despite the fact that the Sears brand has taken on so much fire. This Craftsman stunt, I suspect, could impact Sears’ efforts to sell off those brands … any company that is interested in buying them is going to be careful about the small print, especially any “limited license” caveats.