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Hermes Enlists Top Legal Team to Combat Birkin Bag Lawsuit

 |  April 15, 2024

In a bid to fend off allegations of antitrust violations, luxury fashion house Hermes has enlisted a legal team led by seasoned antitrust lawyers. The move comes as the company faces a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing it of imposing stringent purchase conditions on customers aiming to acquire its coveted Birkin handbags.

According to Reuters, Hermes has turned to global law firm Latham & Watkins, with partners Christopher Yates and Belinda Lee leading the defense. Yates, who previously co-led the firm’s antitrust and competition practice, and Lee, its current vice-chair, bring a wealth of experience to Hermes’ legal efforts.

The lawsuit, filed in March, alleges that Hermes employs discriminatory practices by granting access to its highly sought-after Birkin bags solely to customers with a significant purchase history. This, the plaintiffs argue, infringes upon antitrust regulations as Hermes ostensibly ties the sale of its iconic handbags to the purchase of other items, such as shoes, scarves, and jewelry.

Read more: Private Equity Firm Advent To Buy 75% Stake Of UK’s Hermes For $1.3B

For the plaintiffs to prevail, they must back up their claims that Hermes’ marketing strategy, which links the sale of Birkin bags to other products, contributes unfairly to the company’s dominance in the luxury goods market.

Latham & Watkins is well regarded for its expertise in antitrust litigation alongside other practice areas including mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, and white-collar defense, including high-profile clients such as Walmart in a series of cases in California, challenging allegations of collusion. Hermes’ new legal team also includes Ashley Bauer, who has been leading a protracted legal battle representing StarKist and its parent company Dongwon Industries over accusations of a price-fixing conspiracy within the canned tuna industry.

Source: Reuters