Tiffany Loses Latest Case Against Swatch

Tiffany & Co. has lost the latest round in its seven-year-old battle with Swatch over the two companies’ failed joint watch venture, according to an 8-K report the retailer filed April 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On April 25, the appeals court of Amsterdam upheld the $450 million award that an arbitration panel first issued to Swatch in 2013. It also awarded Swatch an additional 6,340 euros (about $6,900) in legal costs.

The seesaw legal battle—which has now lasted about as long as Tiffany and Swatch’s joint watch company did—dates back to 2012, five years after their ambitious plan for a Tiffany watch line dissolved in acrimony and recriminations. In 2013, the dispute was taken before an arbitration panel in the Netherlands. Swatch won that arbitration—netting a sizable enough award that it turned Tiffany’s annual profit that year into a loss.

Tiffany contested the arbitration in court, even though Dutch law generally offers limited grounds for nullifying an arbitration. Nonetheless, the court agreed to hear the case and, in 2015, it set aside the arbitration judgment. Swatch appealed that ruling and now it has won.

But this may not be the final round: Tiffany still can press its case at the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. If it comes out on top there, the dispute could revert to square one and lead the two parties to take their conflict to another court.

(Image courtesy of Tiffany)

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JCK News Director