Sears emerged from bankruptcy barely a month ago — and owner Eddie Lampert is already making it new enemies.
Stanley Black & Decker sued Sears this week for launching a product it claims is in direct competition to a tool brand Sears sold to Stanley for $900 million in 2017.
Stanley’s Manhattan federal court lawsuit says Sears is now claiming to be the “real home” of the 92-year-old Craftsman brand — even introducing a competing product line, the Craftsman Ultimate Collection, without getting approval from Stanley.
“By touting itself as ‘the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman’ Sears is implying that only its Craftsman merchandise is ‘genuine’ and that all other Craftsman products are ‘illegitimate,’ ” Stanley said.
Stanley is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop Sears from selling the new products.
“With all the legal troubles Sears has, you’d expect it to be more careful,” patent and trademark attorney Justin McNaughton of Greenspoon Marder told The Post. “Something went off the rails here.”
Sears filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 after more than a decade of ownership by Lampert’s ESL Investments. In February, ESL won court approval to buy back the company for $5.2 billion.
Sears is allowed to sell Craftsman tools under a limited licensing deal, but the New Britain, Conn.-based manufacturer claims Sears went rogue with its Craftsman line announced in a Feb. 21 press release.
The new line has been confusing customers on Craftsman’s own Facebook page, according to the suit.
“Anyone know anything about the Craftsman Ultimate Collection?” asked a reader while someone else responded that it was “the real Craftsman not the garbage stanley black and decker stuff.”
Separately, in bankruptcy court, Stanley is objecting to ESL’s continued ownership of the licensing rights it gave the hedge fund in 2017, bankruptcy court filings show.
“The Craftsman mark would suffer both brand degradation and value diminution if it were assigned to ESL,” a filings states.
A Sears spokesman declined to comment.