The US Supreme Court began hearing arguments on November 8th in a legal battle that pits a superpower of the watch world (Omega) against a retail juggernaut (Costco). The Swiss watchmaker hopes to prevent bargain discount sellers like Costco, Target, eBay, Amazon, and others from importing and reselling their watches without the express permission of Omega.
Omega sued Costco for copyright infringement after the wholesale membership club offered Omega's Seamaster watch for $1,299. The suggested retail price was $1,995.
In a public show of support, eBay, Amazon and Google, which all stand to lose if Omega prevails, filed briefs with the court supporting Costco’s case. Conversely, oorganizations representing the publishing, software, music, and movie industries filed their own briefs supporting Omega, in the hope the court will move to protect their copyrights.
The court began hearing arguments on November 8th and a decision is expected in June or July 2011. The case is Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Omega, S.A., 08-1423.
We've previously argued that many Swiss watch companies tacitly encourage the grey market as a means to liquidate discontinued and excess inventory models quickly. Omega is a brand that has made a concerted effort to go upscale in recent years, so they've tried to regularize their distribution channels but with limited success to date.