MANHATTAN (CN) – Battery giant Duracell can’t back out of a huge licensing agreement just because it’s now owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a New York retailer says in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
ESI Cases and Accessories, a manufacturer and seller of licensed products, brought the lawsuit against Duracell after the battery maker tried to ESI last Thursday.
Since 2010, ESI has primarily sold Duracell products including phone cases, phone chargers, auxiliary cables and Bluetooth headsets.
According the 15-page complaint filed in New York County Supreme Court, ESI signed a license with Duracell’s prior owner Gillette in 2014. The agreement states that any termination of the deal requires prior written notice.
Duracell employee Matt Stopka sent an email to ESI CEO Elliot Azoulay on Oct. 11 terminating the agreement, effective that same day.
Azoulay says the termination comes on the heels of a “year-long bad-faith campaign” brought on by Duracell’s new owner Berkshire Hathaway. Beginning in 2017, Berkshire limited ESI to making and selling only three Duracell products.
ESI claims it currently has tens of millions of dollars in outstanding orders that cannot be fulfilled without the license.
“This not only represents a tremendous out-of-pocket expenses and capital, but incalculably more in lost business from major nationwide stores who will not carry (ESIs’) other products,” ESI says in its complaint.
ESI claims business relationships with CVS, Office Depot and Convenience Valet have been tarnished by Duracell’s cancelation. The company seeks $20 million in damages.
Edward Wipper of New York-based Oved and Oved represents ESI. Neither party responded to emails seeking comment by press time.