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EU Rules Against Tesco in Case with Levi Strauss

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union's highest court today rejected demands from UK supermarket giant Tesco for the right to import Levi's jeans from the United States, the BBC reported.

Tesco has been fighting to import jeans from countries with lower wholesale prices, and sell them in the UK at a discount.

"Customers will be dismayed that once again the European Court has failed to loosen the shackles, and allow us to bring in the products they want," Tesco director John Gildersleeve said.

"We've already brought in some great deals, but there are hundreds that are still beyond our reach."

The supermarket said it will call for a review of European law.

But Levi Strauss vice president Alan Christie told the BBC's World Business Report that Tuesday's ruling would be, in the long term, good news for consumers.

"It will help to guarantee choice and the availability of new and interesting products," he said.

The ruling is likely to influence a wide range of goods being sold in European supermarkets including sunglasses, watches, electrical items, perfume and champagne.

UK supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco have vowed to continue selling discount designer goods, despite the risk of being sued by manufacturers. They claim that limiting imports from suppliers in other areas of the world breaches competition rules.

Brand owners have argued that they should be allowed to control the distribution and influence the cost to European consumers. Some, such as Levi Strauss, feel that placing their products alongside groceries undermines the exclusive image of the brand.
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